What differentiates a web start-up that has actual business potential from a Bubble 2.0 joke? The question isn’t any easier to answer than it was during the first tech bubble. As always, it depends on who you ask.
When Goldman Sachs and other ethically crippled investment banks inflated the year 2000-era tech IPO market bubble to the absurd heights it reached, not everybody bit — it just seemed that way. Although scores of certifiably stupid and /or crazy persons were making piles of money buying shares in dubious business plans, skepticism reigned among two party-pooping minority groups.
First were traditional investors who concerned themselves with fundamental notions of P/E ratios and other metrics of legitimate business. These fuddy-duddy Warren Buffet fans stood justifiedly on the sidelines as lots of dumb money was sucked into pets.com and the like, only to evaporate with a pop later.
Second were the Internet Nerds, the technologists who actually understood the web in a practical sense and as such were even more skeptical than the first group, their doubt informed by command of the basic technical and social facts of online life.
I belonged to the second group. I still do. And when I work as a writer for a start-up, it matters to me if their plan makes sense. As I’ve written here before, I’d rather let the work of toiling on crap that isn’t getting anybody anywhere be done by people better suited to it than I am. I don’t want any part of Bubble 2.0.
That’s one of the reasons I do blogging for a startup named cointhatphrase.com. I’ve been pals with its CEO Noel Burkman (he, too is in the second group) for a while and I watched him while he worked quite a bit of e-commerce magic at the behemoth efollett.com, basically birthing the textbook seller’s multimillion-dollar e-commerce channel.
Coin That Phrase is Noel’s idea about the intersection of social networking and e-commerce, centered on the creation and exchange of pithy quotations – forever the fodder of merchandise. You “coin” a phrase, and can buy the right to make and sell merchandise emblazoned with that phrase – T-shirts and the like (all organic and sustainable, natch). To those who see the net as a marketplace, CTP’s a new monetization model that leverages social media and merchandise. And to those who see the net as a commons, it’s a crowdsourced database of pithy quotes that aims to be the mother of all quote databases.
CTP isn’t inflating any bubble – it’s a solid and informed look ahead at how crowds do their thing on the net and how to monetize it. CTP is cool stuff, and I’m glad to help out – on and off the clock.