Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - Social Networks: Where is the Money?

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@Carolyn Ann - right now, as you mentioned for Google, the model is "if you build it they will come." Then what? We're getting pretty good at creating mash-ups on the customer/reader side. Patching what we know to work from each application and network to get us some of the desired results. And in the meantime we leave behind a lot of information for those who can mine it. Which brings me to the issue Gianandrea latches on.

@Gianandrea - privacy is an issue near and dear to my heart. There exist already membership-based networks, particularly when it comes to career development. Do they work? The one experience I had left a lot to be desired. Those were conceived more as special interest groups or clubs, than social networks. A universal sign on would simplify things. I have 3 different passwords at work alone!

Valeria, if I get the point:
- social network still not have a business model to generate revenue
- one issue is that they do not speak each other and you eventually meet the same people across three of four social network
- we need to aggregate all our information in one single source, allowing us to meet different people in different places but from one entrance point only
- are some companies overpriced? I believe yes. I cannot understand why Facebook is valued 15 bn usd base on the assumption that, soneer or later, someone will get the killing idea
- is this a potential bubble? I would watch closely to Google, which is hiding major issues under the profit coming from other business
- last, there are privacy concerns that may harness the business model for the social network ( as seen with Facebook case) and we may see, in a future, people willing to pay 10 usd a month to be part of a social network without privacy concern.
But this is another story.

I dug out my copy - and you're right! There's money to be made in that maelstrom of change. In fact, it's probably fair to say that wherever people intersect, money can be made. :-)

It used to be shops and taverns, with the odd salesman pitching wares from a horsedrawn van. The Internet didn't really change that model - despite all the shouting about online commerce being "new" and "the future"; all that shouting obscured simply hid the fact that the venue had changed - but the business model was still the same. No bricks and mortar? Sure there was - it was just hidden behind a glitzy webpage and a delivery truck.

All of that re-iterated convention has left many entrepeneurs a little unsure about what's next. So far, the social networks seem to operate on some sort of perverted book-club model: get lots of subscribers, and sell the thing before anyone realizes that making money from "this" is harder than it looks. (Personally, I think Google is facing the same challenge; it's hidden behind their outrageous profits and their "new and improved" business model - which can be, I think, simply described as a merging of television and roadside billboards. Provide content - people will come to see it, and then show them the billboards. At some point it will become apparent that this model has limits; actually, Valeria's post and the Economist article demonstrate some of those limits!

So, where is the money? I don't know - and I'm not sure anyone has thought about it enough to figure it out. Articles like the Economist one, and Valeria's highlighting of it, will help someone think about it; maybe some budding entrepeneur will have that essential "a-ha!" moment, and the rest of us can piggyback on their insight. What I do know is that it will be so simple everyone will say "Duh..." (Because if it's obscure - it won't happen.)

"Show me the money" meets "Where's Waldo?" Now, that's a classic problem - and one the world's entrepeneurs are good at solving. :-)

Carolyn Ann

Oh - and here's to the demolishing of Internet silos (I say, as I hoist my mug of coffee :-) ). They serve little purpose, and as "walled gardens", they're appalling bereft of interest. /CA

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