SquidWho – When A Product Becomes A Platform

I wrote a post a week ago talking about products that become platforms.

I started it off with a discussion about the Mahalo/Gnomedex thing. That was a mistake. It clouded the point I was trying to make. And that point is that the best products become platforms at some point. And things that start out as platforms have a hard time becoming products.

The other day I stumbled upon SquidWho. SquidWho is one of a number people search engines that are cropping up. Other notable "people search engines" include WikiYou, WInk, and of course LinkedIn and Wikipedia can be used for searching people.

What’s more interesting to me about SquidWho is what it represents. It’s an application built on top of Squidoo, the service that let’s people make webpages about things they are passionate about. Squidoo is kind of like a truly peer produced About.com. And despite some recent controversy about Squidoo being spammed up, it’s a fairly popular service.

Squidoo is one of the 500 most popular websites according to Alexa. comScore says Squidoo has over 4mm unique visitors per month worldwide. Squidoo has excellent search engine optimization so the pages you create in it get indexed highly in Google.

That’s a good place to start when you want to build a web app. Like a mini version of Facebook, Squidoo is a platform because it has eyeballs and unlike Facebook, it has great google juice.

According to Seth Godin, the founder of Squidoo, SquidWho was built in five weeks from initial idea to launch. And they have a bunch more of these "apps" coming. What’s next? I sure hope they open up the Squidoo platform to web developers so thousands of apps can be built on top of Squidoo. That’s how a product becomes a platform.