Monday, August 24, 2009
As an avid watcher and sometimes participant in the Toronto startup scene, I was excited to hear today's announcement that local search provider Canpages acquired Gigpark, a social networking platform that helps consumers recommend service businesses to like-minded friends. Canpages has been on the acquisition trail, making other small acquisitions of late, including what was left of Ziplocal after it ran short of cash.
Gigpark's traffic numbers are currently dismal, ranking it only 139th on the Techvibes Canada Startup index, so the acquisition must be motivated more by the quality of the platform and the team than by current user numbers.
There are several oddballs on the Techvibes list, in any case (several mature companies, standalone utilities like AjaxWhois, etc.), and it's fair to say that its compilation of numbers from Alexa, Compete, etc. offers only a very rough guide to user growth and startup potential. Some sites listed fairly far down the list have sound business models (software, ecommerce, dating) and are known quantities (Acquisio, Well.ca, Freshbooks, PlentyofFish, RedFlagDeals); others are growing but may still not be getting nearly enough traffic to be profitable yet (NowPublic); and some rank quite high but still not good enough to be considered anything but also-rans or pleasant hangouts that have lingered on past their "hot company" expiry dates (Suite101.com). (Disclaimer: I'll keep it to no comment about HomeStars, a company I am associated with.)
Labels: local search, startups
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Going back over some posts on Marc Andreessen's fantastic blog, pmarca, I came across this post that places market (and granular product-to-market fit and timing) ahead of "team" and "product per se" as a determinant of eventual success. In other words, a good product with an average team can still win if the market "pulls them along." I always thought of AOL as a company like that. You can probably think of many others. (Some in my field will say GoTo.com/Overture and Google AdWords were like that for awhile - they got better later.)
Cross-referencing these thoughts with some of the notables that show up on comScore's recent leaderboard of top web properties, I get some ideas.
Some markets are just so big, you can't dismiss them. Startups with a shot at doing something different in a vertical are not in a space that's "too crowded," arguably -- they are in the right place, with at least a solid chance of success.
Seeing Careerbuilder in 38th place, I think that startups like SimplyHired have a good shot at carving out a more than respectable sliver of a huge market, no matter how huge it seems.
In such verticals, international expansion also makes a ton of sense. Italy, Greece, Turkey, Singapore, French Canada, Mexico, "small" markets compared to the U.S.? Not if the category is big enough.
Seeing American Greetings in a ridiculously high position, I think that a greetings *feature* should probably be rolled out by Flickr, YouTube, gapingvoid, and others. If companies already have such things it may be worth pushing them a little harder. Greetings sound boring. But how many other categories have a whole store in the mall? Hallmark has a whole store in my mall.
Target (#20) and Wal-Mart (#22) are of a different ilk entirely. They actually sell "stuff." Those are some gaudy user numbers, though. Just imagine how many retailers in how many categories never thought e-commerce was worth the level of investment that could take it to that level. There are category winners in online retail still waiting to be decided. $1 million in up-front investment (or so) is all it would take some current laggards to dominate their niches. What are they waiting for?
Labels: comScore, ecommerce, markets, startups, vc
View Posts by Category