What is the most appealing disruptive software business model?

November 14, 2007

by Dave Rosenberg

As part of some business model research I am doing for a friend, I tried to figure out what model is the most appealing if you have a green field (untapped market opportunity) and you were going to start something from scratch. As an open-source software guy first and a software-as-a-service guy second, I really wanted open source to be the right way to go. And I believe it is for infrastructure software, but not for packaged applications. I still can’t figure out how Web 2.0 companies translate into dollars though maybe it’s as simple as advertising?

For packaged apps, there is really no reason to go through the hassles of deployment when you have the option to integrate hosted applications with your internal systems.

New-school business model Monetization Scorecard:

Open source: Monetization via subscription, tooling, support and licensing
Open source gives you multiple options to monetize users but you pretty much always are going to compete with free.

Web 2.0: Monetization via advertising and subscription
To be successful you need lots of eyeballs, which is why the Web 2.0 companies make it feel like 1999 all over again. The net positive is that lots of cool new technologies have been figured out that will trickle down as all the Web 2.x companies eventually go out of business while a select few get bought by Yahoo and Google.

Software as a service: Monetization via subscription
Software as a service companies like Salesforce.com seem to have really figured out how to monetize and lock-in users with no reliance on banner ads or complicated explanations of General Public License vs. Commercial. Is it the perfect model? For packaged apps like customer relationship management, or accounting, I have to say this is the right way to go. If you are doing infrastructure, like service-oriented architecture or enterprise content management, the model falls off due to the necessity of connecting internal systems. In this case, hosted apps just become endpoints.

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Yahoo’s new social job network: Kickstart

October 31, 2007

by Harrison Hoffman

Yahoo is looking to change the game with their new social job network, Kickstart. They are currently conducting research surveys among college students to find out what they think of this new service. Yahoo asks this question to the participants, “Wish you had an ‘in’ to find the job of your dreams?” Kickstart is all about finding that “in.”

Yahoo Kickstart connects college students with alumni at the companies that they are interested in. As you can see in the screenshot above, this student’s “in” at Nike is an alumni named Dave Bottoms. Dave has expressed an interest in helping out students and connecting with alumni. He also knows one of your friends, went to your school, and shares a common interest with you. That’s a really powerful networking tool. Presenting specific connections like this adds a whole new value to this job network.

Aside from showing your “in,” company pages also provide some useful information about the company as a whole, broken down into key points such as industry, size, location, contact, and description. Anyone who is connected in any way with that company is also displayed.

As you might also expect, everyone who signs up with Yahoo Kickstart gets their own profile page, where you can build a mini resume and add a quotation to give the profile a more personal feel. Everything here is pretty standard for a social network, but there is a definite professional focus, much like LinkedIn. The personal profile isn’t anything revolutionary, but it certainly gets the job done in this situation.

The third and final main component to Kickstart is the university page. This is very similar to what Facebook does with their “network” pages. It displays some basic information about the school and provides space for discussions, bulletins, and events.

Yahoo Kickstart is currently a concept and is being researched, so the things that you see in these screenshots may or may not make it into the final product. When I asked Yahoo for a comment on the service, they responded by saying,

“…We’re continually checking the pulse on customer response to potential concepts on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes our research leads to the development of new product offerings, but not all concepts we research are formally developed and rolled out to our larger audience.”

I personally think that Kickstart is a really solid concept and that it’s a possible game-changer in the professional networking space. Hopefully we’ll see Yahoo kickstarting some careers in the near future.

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