The Independent Web

John Battelle has put forth his vision for The Independent Web. John is thinking of this concept in the context of the world he lives in, publishing and advertising, which makes total sense. 

I too am very taken with the idea of The Independent Web, but I am thinking of it in the context of the world I live in, investing in and working with web and mobile web services.

My partner Albert Wenger posted a "letter to Larry" (my words not his) yesterday on his blog. One of his wishes for Larry's vision for Google is this:

Supporting independent third party services instead of either trying to acquire them or competing head on with them.  Figure out how to succeed by making others succeed.

We have seen again and again that when a large company acquires a startup, they most often let it wither and die (myspace, delicious, etc). We have also seen that if that web services can be spun out (skype, stumbleupon), they can often be resuscitated. And so we believe that buying web services and aggregating them under some uber holding company model is not a great thing for the acquirer or the web at large.

Now Google is possibly the exception to this rule. As I said on stage at Web 2 last fall, Google has been hands down the best acquirer of web services. YouTube, Android, Doubleclick, Keyhole, and many more are proof that this is what Google does best.

But acquiring innovating emerging web services is not the only thing that big companies do that can be detrimental to the web. Worse is competing head on with them. Look at Facebook. They have ripped off Twitter, Foursquare, Quora, and many more small innovative startups. They haven't "killed" any of these companies but they have muddled the market and caused users to have to make choices that may turn out to be the wrong choices for them.

What I would like to see (and obviously Albert would too) is the emergence of a cooperative attitude on the web and mobile web where the big Internet companies and the innovative emerging web services work together to "succeed by making others succeed." 

Tim O'Reilly has been promoting this concept for a decade or more under the rubric of the Internet as an open operating system. This is an ideal I totally subscribe to. And I'd like to see more companies think this way, including companies that we are invested in that may not entirely see the world this way.

You can try to get as much of the pie for yourself or you can try to make the pie bigger and thus make your piece of the pie bigger. An independent web vision is the latter approach and, I think, the right approach.


Comments (Archived):

  1. AVillageOfHockey

    Agreed! The whole we want to own everything is wrong anyway. People are experts in their own communities and they are motivated to work harder on their own products than any corporate environment.In an age of embeddable widgets, give more power to a website owner to work your services into his site in a way where you both benefit.It’s what we are doing!

  2. William Mougayar

    That’s a great vision and wish. When a company becomes bigger than a platform by becoming an ecosystem itself, then they have responsibilities.But the same could apply to Twitter where the lines of their platform boundaries are still blurry and that’s still confusing partners in their emerging ecosystem. We need Twitter to clarify where they’ll play and where they’ll expect co-operative innovative to thrive around them.

    1. fredwilson

      i agree and said so much in my post

      1. Julien

        Please tell disqus to add an uber-like button feature πŸ™‚

        1. fredwilson

          will do!

          1. vruz

            and some way to view a list of who liked what………………..

          2. ShanaC

            If you click on the little icon of who liked your comment, you can see all the people who liked it.

          3. vruz

            thanks. but I mean more like a dashboard panel in where I can see a list of *all* the things people ‘liked’ from me, across blogs, so that I don’t have to visit one by one to see what happened.

  3. Robert Hacker

    Microsoft may be an even better example than FB to demonstrate the weaknesses in the “ripping off” strategy, which explains in part the current MS strategic dilemma. The real problem with a rip off follower strategy is that you give up control over company strategy and become reactive rather than prospective.The point about the “bigger pie” is also compelling but worthy of future blog posts to make the logic clearer. How to implement such a strategy in terms of positive rather than negative steps would be interesting.

  4. vruz

    In the halcyon days of the PC platform Microsoft were perceived as a good player of the ecosystem they helped to create.It was only after Windows 95 and subsequent versions of Microsoft Office that they became a more aggressive predator, not only after the big guys but also often in competition with smaller software houses.I think the microsoftian/machiavellian role has already been taken over on both sides of the web. (wired and mobile)There’s a big opportunity for companies like Google and Twitter to deepen their compromise with the core values of openness, privacy and common development.In a way, Twitter’s handling of the wikileaks issue was a clear sign in this direction.So was Larry and Sergey’s decision to retreat from China (against the vote of Eric Schmidt). as an interesting parallel.More than focusing on technology and the general plumbing of the web, they should lead a manifesto for the new era of the web that’s just about to start.I think we’re at the threshold of the 3.0 era.

    1. Sebastian Wain

      I think it’s ironic, but Microsoft (beyond specific anti-monopoly practices) has helped more developers and software companies that others in the industry. The saw the developers as a partners and were focused on delivering great development tools (visual studio), not only APIs.With Apple happens something similar, in one side they are extremely closed but in the other created a complete mobile software ecosystem from scratch that nobody could in the past (j2me, bb, windows mobile, and android now).Although Google works in a way like a Central Bank for the web, in my perspective they give alms in terms of adsense cents. This is happening in the web in many places, for example friends with ten of millions of players on their flash games… are only virtually successful!

  5. Jeff Sayre

    Fred -In considering the possible outcomes of the recent Net Neutrality debates, I wrote a more-farfetched thought piece on the issue of an independent Internet (not Web) entitled, Goodbye Google Old Friend: It’s time for the Open-Source Internet.

    1. fredwilson

      where can i find that piece?

      1. Jeff Sayre

        Sorry, Fred. I clicked the wrong Disqus reply button–the one closer to your response bar which is actually the one meant for replying to my comment.So reposting:Is the link I provided not working? I can click the the link successfully.

        1. fredwilson

          it is there nowthanks

    2. Jeff Sayre

      I’ve moved my comment to proper location.

  6. derekhkan

    at first glance one might think this mindset is anti capitalistic – but upon closer inspection you quickly realize that growing the pie is the mentality a successful business should, have for the industry, and really for all aspects of life

    1. fredwilson

      i’ve been called a technocommunist in this community fairly often

      1. LIAD

        technocommunist is a great term – someone register the domain quick!

        1. fredwilson

          it should belong to prokofy. she came up with it

          1. Dale Allyn

            I have the domain and will happily make it available to prokofy if she wants it, or to anyone here in the AVC clan if prokofy has no interest. Just didn’t want it to be lost if someone here wants to develop it. It is a good name that can be developed into something good, if only a blog which advocates for universal access to the web, baking bigger pies, etc.I don’t know prokofy, so maybe she’ll read this, etc.

          2. fredwilson

            so cool that you have it dalethat means something good will come of it

          3. ShanaC

            I actually know the ideal place that it should belong to, alas..i don’t think they would take it

          4. Dale Allyn

            The name may take a bit of “explaining” in use, but done properly it can be something very good. I’m no communist (far from it), but creating a place to discuss, disclose and distribute information regarding a Web that continues to grow in a way which is not only profitable (which is necessary to sustain it), but most importantly can contribute to and actually facilitate the betterment of all is a worthwhile goal IMO. A hub for an improving community. πŸ˜‰

          5. ShanaC


      2. vruz

        it’s quite astonishing how deep the ghost of mccarthy runs in the minds of so many would think pragmatism should override such culturally acquired instincts.

      3. derekhkan

        haha – is that what we call VCs these days? Sounds like a new hypem indie artist – great post as always.

    2. vruz

      yes and no.I agree that it’s different from capitalism as we know it.Umair Haque calls it Capitalism 2.0.I half-jokingly told him the other day that Capitalism 2.0 is better branding for Socialism 0.5But isn’t capitalism all about taking some of best ideas and putting them to work, wherever they come from?I don’t think there’s anything anti-capitalistic in that. Capitalism won, there’s no need to look for the ghosts of enemies.It’s time to make capitalism better.

      1. derekhkan

        Socialism 0.5 – don’t call it a come backwith that said i should clarify – i’m all for the mindset of growing the pie. collaboration and fostering the independence of great ideas is a long term payoff for the my best friend argued once – there’s a case to be made about diversity for diversity’s sake

    3. Kyle Comeau

      I think capitalism just assumes that the pie grows. This mindset isn’t anti-capitalistic…it just doesn’t fit the model of capitalism that we have been taught.I saw a new book in the bookstore about two weeks ago called CoDestiny. The subtitle went along with this post – “Overcome your growth challenges by helping your customers overcome theirs.”I probably won’t read the book, but it was something that definitely caught my eye.

  7. hungrygardener

    Great post . . and how do you suggest little companies and big companies go about doing this? For example I am working on a sms social network for Africa where Google has expressed interest in unlocking local content. They have Google Trader and Bazaar running in central Africa countries but haven’t generated as much tractions as they would like. As new kid on block it would be great to work with them without getting smothered or stomped on.The only suggestions I could make is when a big company is interested in a little company both first spend an inordinate amount of time becoming friends before moving on to dating and possible marriage. As with dating, the companies should first spend all their time exploring ways to work together and NOT even mention or think out loud about proposing marriage. I think big and little companies are too prone to immediately rush to thinking about marriage as both fall totally in love and want to possess each other rather then completely explore all possibilities of growing and maximizing a relationship. The rush to posses increases the likelihood of missing the opportunity to explore and consummate a more satisfying long-term relationship.

    1. fredwilson

      it’s about attitude shift

  8. awaldstein

    Great post Fred….I’m going to contemplate it as I head up the lifts to Highlands today;)Question…isn’t this an attitude change by the acquirers not the host of acquirable companies? I’ve long believed that you build a company to create value and at least in the beginning, that same action applies to both staying independent and being acquired.

    1. Keenan

      Would that be Aspen Highlands?

      1. fredwilson

        my favorite mountain at aspenthough i also love ajax, particularly the ridge of bell

        1. awaldstein

          I put the reference in to nudge you a bit Fred as I remember some remark about Highlands and Ridge of Bell from a comment string on your post exactly year ago. I come to Aspen every year at this time.

      2. awaldstein

        Yup….6 hour delayed response as I just came down from the mountain ;)So beautiful. Cold. Crisp. Blue skies. Wonderful day.

        1. fredwilson

          did you hike the bowl?

          1. awaldstein

            Didn’t do it today. Possibly tomorrow.

        2. Keenan

          You live in Aspen? I have a place in Vail. I will be in Aspen for X-games this upcoming weekend.

          1. awaldstein

            Actually live in NYC but come here every year on my Bday. Will be gone by the weekend unfortunately as it would be fun to meet up.I do try to get to Vail though in February though. The back bowls are a unique pleasure to ski.

          2. Keenan

            Happy Birthday! The 29th is always a great one.Next time give me a heads up. Maybe we can make some turns.Safe travels back.

          3. awaldstein

            Thanks!I’ll certainly ping you next time.The good thing about life being 20+ years longer nowadays is that with hard work and some luck you can put those years in the middle of life where you can make the most of them.

          4. Dave Pinsen

            Happy Birthday, Arnold.

          5. awaldstein

            Thnx Dave.

    2. RichardF

      How jealous am I Arnold, have an awesome time.

      1. awaldstein


  9. RF

    What you’re arguing is for companies to stick to their “core” business and not get distracted by the newest “shiny object”. Unfortunately, this discipline is hard to enforce, as these distractions occur within almost every company — large or small. It is my experience that when companies stray from their core business, they ultimately pay the price both in their core and in the “shiny object” business they either acquire or start themselves (e.g, Skype). In fact, I now run a business that resides in a holding company — it is clear that we are not a core asset, and until recently, we have not received the attention or resources we need to grow (despite being the 2nd largest EBITDA contributor). Both companies are worse off because of the opportunity cost involved with being a distraction to each other.However, I am not sure I agree with your argument for stifling choice — this stifles competition more than it does muddle the market, does it not? In the long-term, the best companies survive because they have the best offer. And, if they die out, it’s usually — though not always — because they were replaced by something superior. Additionally, with competition comes different, more targeted offerings that better serve different customer segments. As a result, customers are better off, and that’s the end goal we’re all striving for, right?

  10. LIAD

    the alternative view(?)The web moves too quickly for everyone to establish entrenched positions and then be able to map out ‘friendly-fire-free’ zones. Companies want to grow in an absolute and relative sense. They want more of this pie and the larger one.Thinking someone’s eating your lunch and unfairly benefiting from the fruits of your labour can be a bitter pill to swallow. Long-term symbiotic relationships are rare. What seems complimentary today can look predatory tomorrow. Unnecessary Paranoia is a hallmark of the game.The big boys are just too invested to agree to play nice out of principle.

    1. Julien

      I perfectly understand this, but I think that when you eat your eco-system, you eventually cut the branch on which your sitting. Growing in an absolute sense is absolutely necessary and should be the #1 goal of any startup, but they should grow in a sustainable way, and I believe that the only way they can grow in a sustainable way is to promote the people who rely on them, to make sure the ecosystem they live in is growing fast.I don’t have any numbers about twitter, and this may be BS, but I think Twitter’s growth has been vastly affected by their moves in 2010. Tearing appart their developer community has probably hurt them a lot.If you look in the physical world, I think we see the same patterns (over much longer periods). When a bigass mall arrives in a city, it sometimes kill the smaller businesses, and when people tend to lose their jobs, they will also tend to move to other places… and the once shiny and successful mall becomes less useful and may even shut doors eventually…. etc.So I don’t think it’s about playing nice, it’s about playing long term.

      1. LIAD

        agree. 100%.It’s just that you don’t think that way when you’re in the trenches and have investors/bank managers breathing down your neck.Long-term thinking, whilst being totally rational can be seen as irational & altruistic by others peering in.Remember reading Warren Buffet talking about the stock market being a voting machine and value investing being a weighing machine. I think that’s analogous to the independent web. Whilst it may be better for all concerned in the long-term – few have that foresight and can withstand short-term pressure to maximise, maximise, maximise.


        Intrinsic to any internet business dependent on online ads are two constraint conditions: time & eyeballs.time & eyeballs -> ad revenuemore time || more eyeballs -> more ad revenue.However the more players there are in your space, the more you have to compete for time & eyeballs. You can cooperate in the short term, but in the long term, your business model will push up against these constraint conditions. And as your shareholder demand more growth to maximize ROI, eventually you’ll have to stop cooperating, and compete by whatever means necessary; including subsuming all use-cases & functionality or your partners.non-cooperation is already built into the system.The only way to prevent this is to find alternative revenue models other than online ads.

        1. Julien

          I think you forgot the “quality” of the eyeballs… On the web its “easy” to get hours or eyeballs. What’s hard is to get qualified attention.

          1. ShanaC

            So true, it will be interesting to see how niche players help form out getting quality eyeballs

  11. Harry DeMott

    I like the title Technocommunist. Pretty catchy.These sort of ideas always beg the question: would you feel the same way if you were a major owner of Facebook? My guess is you (and here I mean Fred) probably would.however, I think all companies and CEO’s, investors, boards and investor bases look first to survive – then to grow expanding their sphere of influence – then to thrive. So when you look at Facebook you can understand why they would want to build a mail service, Facebook places, Facebook credits – despite the fact that Gmail our Outlook work well, Foursquare is a great service (posted my first picture this morning), and Paypal is extremely well established.You view it as malefaction but many people just look at it as competition and progress.Isn’t that the beauty of the web as it exists today – the cost of entry is so low that anyone with an idea can see that idea realized – and distribution is ubiquitous.Based on this sort of open theory – Skype shouldn’t exist – the traditional telcos were doing a fine job connecting calls for the past 100 years. But give visionaries the opportunity to do it cheaper, faster, better – give companies an opportunity to lock in more of the profit potential around communication and they will do it.The truth is that you are 100% correct – if everyone cooperated and acted in a sort of enlightened oligopolistic manner – then we would likely see more companies flourish, and more innovation without worrying whether they were going to get squashed by a behemoth.What you are talking about is a sort of Nash Equilibrium on the web where all the players state their boundaries – and willingness to work with each other – and then new entrants are slotted into their position.The problem is that while this works well in a blog post – in reality, in the boardroom, there is always the thought that you can do more – grab more market share – get more attention – siphon off more of the profits accruing to others.Look at the recent Google Deals going after Groupon. Now I have always believed that there was no barriers to entry in the group deal space – and no technological secret sauce. It was simply hiring a lot of local advertising people to find businesses with slack capacity and high gross margins who were looking to drive business. Now does Google need to go after Groupon – not in the least – but logically, they view advertising – specifically advertising based on personal intention to be their business – and when they see Groupon mentioned as having a $15B IPO – they realize that it is something they should own. They try to buy it – and when that doesn’t work they compete.Foursquare is an important part of someones social graph – so why wouldn’t Facebook want that information.What you are talking about is a very tightly knit keiretsu of web services. With open API’s we have a lot of intermingling right now – but what we don’t have is the level of coordination and cross holdings that really define the traditional Japanese business veriosn.Perhaps what we will see emerge is a form of this – whereby Facebook wil represent one Keiretsu – opening itself up more to partnerships and deals with favored players (Zynga deal makes sense, no?) and working closely with them.Google could be another Keiretsu.Apple anotherMicrosoft anotherand so on.And on the other end you could have more and more VC firms doing the same things – not only with their investments in their existing portfolio – but across multiple VC portfolios.So USV might align with KPCB to deepen the relationship between their portfolio companies.Perhaps Sequoia does something similar with Greylock.Logistically it is all very difficult – but the results would be far better for all involved ultimately.To get all the way back to the initial post – I think that is where we are heading in the VC and investing side – it is not going to be who is going to write me the check with the least dilution (i.e. the highest valuation) – it is going to be who can become my partner and get me in the right keiretsu in order to allow me to grow to my potential.

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t like the idea of keiretsusentrepreneurs should not be forced by investors to align with anyone

      1. kidmercury

        try re-reading your comment, but replacing “keiretsu” with “government,” and “investors” with “government officials.” maybe that works? same difference, IMHO.

    2. vruz

      this idea of commie tech makes zero sense.1) this is no communist dream, it’s more like Strategic Service Management (SSM) in a network of auto part makers and sellers whose parts fit in the cars some other company.2) the drivers want certain assurances that your car (Facebook) won’t drive them in the ditch (data sold to whoever pays for it).the companies who agree on certain quality standards for their drivers will have a qualitative advantage over the rest (they won’t get killed in the driveway)entrepreneurs don’t have to be greedy and shortsighted idiots in order to be capitalistic.

      1. ShanaC

        That isn’t working out well in the SSM field right now – if one player goes down, the ecosystem goes down.

        1. vruz

          massive consolidation and other diseases like cornered markets,precisely problems of capitalism 1.0. (not commie tech)

    3. ShanaC

      I’m not totally sure – first off we can’t force people to behave in accordance to the nash equlibrium. There will always be some level of technological change that forces shifts in that equilibrium. Further, kiritisus cause there own market problems (look at bank lending in Japan and their housing issues)The web is an awkward place to be because it is driven by change. What may work now may not work later (see hotmail vs gmail)

  12. Shyam Subramanyan

    Agree with the general thought, but many times an established company acquires or builds competing service to hedge against an equal size competitor. If they cooperate with the emerging company, they might end up with a rude surprise (Google, Admob, Apple is an example). How do you propose the independent web to work in such scenario?

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t think ad networks are part of my independent web visionthey are monetization systems and i think it actually makes sense for them to be aggregated by a few large companies

      1. ShanaC

        ok that’s interesting -why?

  13. whigs

    Exactly. What if I could create a service that leverages certain parts of (scrobble) and foursquare (geo check-in) without having to directly compete with them? They are great services and more exposure is better for these companies.I’ve been wanting to create a music service that has gaming features with digital goods based on scrobble history and check ins at shows, but I don’t want to build an entirely new ecosystem that forces users to make choices they don’t want to.The recent Gowalla implementation of foursquares new api is a good example, though I haven’t actually used it to say that it is exactly the example.

  14. Julien

    The independent web is what actually made Google so successful. For a long time they have been able to completely align their own interest with the web’s interest : the more the web grew, the more people would use it, and the more they would use Google search to find what they’re looking for. I think this is exactly in this context that the Youtube acquisition was so successful, same with Adroid and same with products they launched like Gmail and maps.Yet, this shifted a couple years ago with the advent of massive silos of data they couldn’t not necessarily make sense of or even access, like Facebook or Twitter and that is when things started to work a little less well for Google.I certainly hope they can find their path back on this and I certainly hope others find a similar path where they figure out that eating the rest of the web is not going to make them any stronger or bigger.

  15. Jennifer McFadden

    Ahhh, coopetition. Flashbacks to Nalebuff at Yale SOM….good (and optimistic) post, Fred.

  16. taylorwc

    So…as an investor who has a fiduciary responsibility to both your portfolio co’s and your LPs, how do you think through exit strategies if you believe that most of the time the company being acquired in these cases never realizes its full potential?

    1. fredwilson

      sescondary markets and public markets

      1. kenberger

        Really looking fwd to a full-blown post and discussion about this.The increased development of this is 1 of the most fundamental changes in the tech startup space over the past few years.

      2. taylorwc

        Would you say that your attitude toward exits has always leaned that way, oris that just as much a product of today’s environment?

        1. fredwilson

          i’ve developed my views over time. in the 90s, it was all about the IPO. earlier in this decade, acquisitions were the best way to get liquid. both have their issues. i think the combination of M&A, secondaries, and IPOs is the best approach

  17. kidmercury

    IMHO this is all very vague. what are some specific, actionable items you’d like to see?i think a good starting point is data portability. define it, create it. profitably. pursue that line of thought far enough, and i think you’ll end up seeing the need for a post nation-state system managed by federations of online communities. a new world order.although i work on it diligently, it still seems like this is far away, because people cannot have honest conversations about the political ramifications of this. looks like we need more pain before people will open their hearts and minds to the truth. no worries. as you wish.9/11 was an inside job,kid mercury

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t want to be talking my book too much but there are plenty of specific things the big guys and our portfolio companies could do together

      1. kidmercury

        i hope your vision accounts for people on my level. from the perspective of the rest of the world, twitter, foursquare, tumblr, zynga are big guys.but to be honest, i doubt your vision does account for those at my level, or even lower. hope you can allay my concerns and prove me wrong.

        1. fredwilson

          we invest in people at your level. that’s typically where we get involved. none of those companies you mention had 10 employees at the time of our investment. a few had two employeers (ie founders)

          1. Matt A. Myers

            Good point.I stand corrected, kidmercury. There could always be the seed available – assuming the big companies don’t just decide to copy what they see working; If one ecosystem structure like this exists and the other see something working and missing in their own – if their own theories follow – and if their understanding is adequate as to why it’s needed and working, then they’ll copy it. Or they acquire you because you understand why things work – or they just listen to your presentation and thank you for all of your ideas and understanding and because you did such a thorough job they don’t need you – why I hate most business. The consumer will win in the end though, right? That’s the point of business, right? Creating the environment that allows competitors to innovate to make things cheaper to do to make the cost less to consumers…

          2. kidmercury

            right, that’s not what i mean. what i mean is that you want to find a better way of splitting the pie between google, foursquare, tumblr, etc. in other words, you want to find a better way to split the pie between the super borgs and the VC-backed. i wonder if your vision is going to generate wealth for the tons of businesses that are not VC-backed. i doubt it will. and to me, a system that does not do a much better way of splitting the pie, to the extent that the people at the bottom benefit (even those much lower than me), is not very interesting. it’s just more re-shuffling of the already broken put it more simply: it seems like you want to expand the economic pie and redefine how it is allocated. great! i totally agree. but i don’t see how you are going to do anything meaningful on that front without acknowledging the 800 pound parasite in the room, which is govt/banking/military industrial complex. so what is going to end up happening, in my opinion, is that you will advocate stuff that goes from google to your portfolio companies. a tiny re-allocation that in my opinion may be meaningless for people like me (non-VC backed companies).

          3. Matt A. Myers

            Super borgs. I love you, kidmercury.The stated ecosystem by Fred allows similar situations to exist with the dislike of patents that Fred has. Overall these patents are stupid, including Twitter recently being sued for allowing celebrities to communicate online – but one thing patents do allow is a chance for the ‘poor’ to protect their ideas and attempt to stop the ‘rich from getting richer.’Where these systems ends up being okay is when “money doesn’t exist” in the future, or rather doesn’t have the same implications and strength that fear (of not having it) gives to it. Where everyone benefits equally. Where everyone gets to travel once or twice per year (or more). Where everyone gets as much education as they are capable of handling. Where everyone gets a wide range of healthy food. Where everyone can eat out and be social very regularly. Where everyone has the ability to take care of themselves (or their family, neighbours, friends) because they have access to what they need to do so.And for anyone who wants to say that people get lazy and do nothing when they have everything they need, that’s ridiculous (and a fear-driven though). People still have experiences that morph them. We are also story-tellers and can guide people’s behaviours through stories. That’s how we instil right from wrong in our children, right?I’m talking worldwide too. We need to manage, globally, society and our resources (notice I said manage, and not control). Once that happens then amazing things can start to happen, and people will have enough time and be healthy enough to pay attention and contribute to those amazing things. I’ve been fortunate to travel around different parts of the world throughout my life, and I’ve experienced that people are the same. They are caring and giving when they are not afraid, and they are only afraid if someone tells them to be or if they feel they have something to lose (from someone else or another nation). But there’s no giving or taking if we’re all managing the world together. And interacting with different cultures and people is an experience anyone can enjoy.People who are afraid or scoff at this perhaps just don’t understand because they haven’t ever learned differently. People are afraid of what they can’t envision – which is completely fair. However, guess what? There are a lot more people in the world who are ‘poor’ and would benefit from such a system, than there are of people who only understand the business and the current way of going about things.Communist? Naw, not really – it’s not the working class making decisions – it’s how you’d want to be treated if you were a child with no decision making powers, or if you were put in a situation or environment that you’d be put in but didn’t know what environment looked like beforehand. Global humanity with a soul. πŸ™‚

          4. kidmercury

            lol, thanks for the good vibes, matt! πŸ™‚

          5. fredwilson

            that’s bullshit. i want the two person company we just funded to getthe same opportunities.

          6. kidmercury

            my point is, i dont think anyone is going to do a better job of splitting the pie than google is. to get beyond google, IMHO, the political parasites need to be dealt with.i shouldn’t have personalized my comments. forget about me and you and your portfolio. i’d like to see a plan that expands the pie and decreases concentration of wealth (away from its current dangerously high levels). it sounds like we agree on this as worthwhile goals, although if you disagree feel free to let us know. where we disagree is you seem to think these goals can be accomplished without dealing directly with the political issues. i see groupon raise, like, a billion dollars, and i see facebook raise 1.5 bn, and i see that the wealth allocation problem, which is a political problem in my opinion, is getting worse.

        2. Matt A. Myers

          I don’t think he can. I don’t think that’s the point behind this theory. This theory is for ALL consumers, all people – not specifically for smaller entrepreneurs. This is why I believe that people in society must be taken care of first before something like this will take off, or can fully take off. But, there’s always the ying-yang balance. One can start which pushes pressure on the other to begin. Google has shown they are willing to take a stand for human rights, and is known to be good for all of a global humanity (not simply maybe for a single nation; because censorship does have some benefits for some of, and maybe a majority of the enclosed affected – but there are costs for said benefits too).

  18. MillValleyTodd

    In a sense, a democratic view of the web. I like it.

  19. Mark Heyert

    Gary Hamel has advocated alliances and cooperation for many years. I agree but doesn’t the demands of shareholders, market makers and the ego get in the way most of the time?

  20. kirklove

    If “big” companies have bought and subsequently ran into the ground so many great smaller companies, why do you think they keep doing it? Is it fear? Because economically it doesn’t always seem to make much sense.

  21. David Fishman

    Amen totally agree. E-commerce platform vendors should take notes! As distributed commerce is enabled and the social sphere becomes a greater influence … platforms will need to be more open and accessible to 3rd party developers!

  22. kenberger

    “Google is possibly the exception to this rule”and a possible exception to that exception is Dodgeball πŸ˜‰

    1. fredwilson

      yes, the exception that proves the rule

  23. Frantzdyromain

    Although i would like to see this happen also, it won’t. Capitalism creates competition and companies with lots will buy smaller companies that show threat and potential. Also remember that capitalism creates greed and cash rich companies are always thinking about their bottom line.

  24. Dan Cornish

    Instead of arguing about who gets what piece of pie, bake a new pie. The large players will always be looking for new revenue. More companies should be building stand alone businesses, which should never be acquired. Could delicious ever have been a stand alone business? From an investors point of view, the exit is the point of the investment. Stand alone businesses have be derided as a life style businesses unworthy of venture capital investment. Perhaps a new class of investors/investment philosophy could be invented.How about this: A SaaS business generates $1m in cashflow each year. An investor puts in $1m of cash and gets a 15-20% annual return if sales grow. The note can be 1-5 years. How many venture funds get this kind of return (other than Fred’s)?

    1. PhilipSugar

      Looks like we run similar (non-competive) businesses.The issue is if you are cash flowing $1M why do you want $1M in cash at a really high interest rate? Go out and earn it.Now the issue is if you are running a “lifestyle” business liquidity and diversity are an issue.Josh Koppleman had an interesting take by allowing companies to essentially put equity to buy into his fund and thus diversify and gain liquidity on exits which are very binary.A problem that is tough to solve is negative selection. If you think/know you’re prospects are great, you go it alone, if you think not so much you’d love to diversify as much as you can.However, I have toyed about with the idea of some sort of fund that is about cash flow return. Buys shares in lifestyle businesses through cash and shares in the fund.Cash goes to cash out founders, shares are to have people keep “skin in the game” (I really hate that term, because that is usually a term investors use when they want you to keep a low salary and accept shitty terms)I have not been able to solve the:Legal (not having legal costs eat the returns),Governance (you don’t want to give up control, but you don’t want to see a crazy CEO do a Nardelli on you),Securities Law: (Wall Street firms can setup synthetic share derivatives, but God help you if you want to have capital to actually fund firms the SEC will kill you):Tax: Dividends are double taxed, and the code on this would be tough.Investors: (not a sexy lottery type investment, nor do I care to pitch investors)Best regards.

    2. fredwilson

      delicious could have been a stand alone business and it was not the investors who sold the company. we wish it was not sold

  25. Dale Allyn

    Fred, I agree with the tenor of this post, and I’m happy to see you add your voice (again) to the importance of an independent web. And as a capitalist, I firmly believe that there is more to be had by ALL, by having more overall (i.e. “growing the pie”), than a contrary point of view.Several comments here add specifics such as portability of personal content (something we’re building in from the start in our new app.), and a respect for users, etc. In my opinion, respect for users is the most important, and that includes those who don’t necessarily access the web from smokin’ fast connections on the newest hardware. Sure, business is great in the newest, fanciest mobile web or streaming whatever, but there are lots of people (and business opportunity) in the more “modest web”. Respect and responsibility to all works to include everyone so that all can come, learn, share, interact and teach (and profit in any number of ways).Great post, Fred.

  26. Matt A. Myers

    I’ve always had some issues with this. I thought this through quite a lot on my own. It takes a lot of thinking. It would take a lot of cooperation, and educating and helping the potential partners feel comfortable and fully understand for them to want to cooperate.It’ll be a pretty epic decision among the founders of first stated independent web structure. And if it is executed properly, and I do think the right people exist with enough of an understanding to guide it properly, then it will be amazing.There does have to be a long-term sustainable reason for a company to be apart of said independent web though.When someone’s posting optimistically about how something can be so amazing, there’s not usually much mention of the possible drawbacks. I’m wondering what those drawbacks and negatives for whatever size companies or consumers might be. By allowing someone’s piece of pie to become bigger (for some, the more successful companies/the better executed) therefore causes someone’s piece or size of pie to become smaller.The positive side is easy to see: making it easier to flow between services and/or information, if those services and information has a good user experience to them and useful – then they will begin to be used more than others.How do you make partnerships / arrangements that are fair? That can calculate and take into account the short-term gives and takes, and the long-term gives and takes.Who’s to say if one large piece of the puzzle decides to allow themselves to open up themselves, that it doesn’t cause them to not be as competitive? But does then immediate competitiveness matter in this ecosystem? With some metrics, I’d say yes.On the positive side for consumers, linking consumers more quickly into what they’re most likely looking for (either specific services or information, say at least 80% of the time). Google likes people searching though and that’s where they mostly get revenue from. Now, let’s add Tumblr into it so Tumblr provides curated sections for Google and higher-weighted content by user-produced (assuming “real” people are better determined [and not spambots] on Tumblr so results are good). And then let’s say that people start using Tumblr’s search box instead of Google’s search box. If Google becomes a main referrer for curated services and information, and they therefore lose unknown amount of traffic – but perhaps it’s agreed that they’ll be integrated as the ‘search box’ and a funnel that’s used, where a budget is set aside for advertising and for filling in gaps in the ecosystem. Getting acquired by Google then makes this a moot point. But getting acquired by Google means Google will have to pay what the Tumblr founders see as future revenues from whatever extensions to business they see. So assume then there’s no acquisition, but instead an agreement/partnership. Who draws the boundary line to determine where that individual business is able to innovate into and increase their own revenues and profits? Assume that will be good for the whole ecosystem, as there’d have to be a % of those increased profits going back into the overall ecosystem … It comes down to a matter of letting go, trusting that the gaps for revenues will be discovered and filled, and that there will be an increase in benefit for the whole ecosystem over time (including your own company). Then the tough part is figuring out and deciding the initial value of each section. Do you take current growth rate into account? Do you take current revenues into account? Current users? So just get all of the investors and boards to agree (and probably throw out a lot of what they learned in business school), and you’ll have a winning ecosystem, with immense ever-innovating brilliant teams that are looking out for eachother – and where they have the drive still to earn more, and will have their backs being watched.But then what do non-independant web top competitors do? Undercut pricing, gain customers/users, improve and copy the best and keep those users? They’ll maintain a segmentation of people online. But it would be cool and fun to then play the game of marketing to steal those specific segmentations into joining the ‘independent web’ ecosystem of companies – where the power of many (the marketing budget) can be harnessed to do so in a powerful way. And you’ll have a whole bunch of brilliant minds feeling like kids on a playground figuring out what next big thing they can do that’ll help everyone who’s aiming for a better future.Hopefully I’m not spouting too far off by what this post insinuates… it felt like a naturally venting opportunity anyway.Clearly the people with the most and the most successful independent parts of the web (I would throw you into that group Fred) will benefit the most – not to hold this against Fred in any way, as his decisions for his investment theory has lead him to having successful portfolio companies – that only reenforce his theories. Not to say that this isn’t the best for consumers, but consumers outside of the internet aren’t taken care of very well. Society doesn’t take care of everyone yet, and currently how people struggle to get enough to take care of themselves and their families is this horrible struggle based on fear (that most aren’t aware of, or not aware of how profound of an impact it has).So if you’re looking to make $1 billion over the next 5 years, okay then. But if you’re looking to make $100 million per year over the next 20 years, then Fred’s theory wins.Controlled-closed platforms == Short-term benefits of higher profits, highest risk (control control control! bully bully bully! fear fear fear!)Fred’s “independent web” ecosystem == Long-term benefit and success and sustainability, lowest risk (but yup — you’ll have to share kids!!)P.S. I want to be apart of this and discussion relating to this, so please find a way to contact and include me. I’d be greatful. πŸ™‚

    1. fredwilson

      did you post this on your blog? if not, you should. it’s closer to a blog post than a comment

      1. Matt A. Myers

        If you think it’s a good idea to put into a post, I thought it wise to do so… I cleaned it up a tiny little so the flow’s a bit easier. Thanks for the nudge. :)The Independent Web, How Can It Work?

  27. Chris Rossini

    Sometimes acquisitions work out & other times they don’t.The problem is, there is no way of knowing in advance.So, in my view, I think it’s an error to imply that the Big Boys should not acquire emerging startups because they *might* let the acquisition wither and die.There’s no way to engineer a perfect condition where every company can grow & succeed. In a world with limited resources, and where consumer desires can change on a whim, many ideas just can’t work.When Yahoo acquired delicious, *both* parties to the deal were guessing…If they decided not to go through with the acquisition, but instead “helped” each other (whatever that may mean) it’s still a guess. And the results, because consumer desires are so fickle, could have been the same.

  28. Joe Gold

    Break up the monopolies. We all know Google, Facebook and Zynga are monopolies. Look at the rate they are quickly copying/buying up competition. They’re not good for the internet ecosystem.Or we can pretend they’re not, and watch them decimate all of the startups in the next 5 years powered by stupid cash flowing in from government money printing.

    1. ShanaC

      zynga only makes games. it is hard to adopt the position that they are a monopoly. where does that leave EA?

  29. Mark Essel

    Perfect timing on this post Fred.I just finished sharing some thoughts on how and why investment is changing the future web landscape. Then while stepping in to my twitter inbound I caught your post while pinned on the couch under dogs and my napping wife.I had plenty of time to digest John Battelle’s compelling piece on the nature of digital identity, and follow it up with Albert’s hopes for Larry and Google as a true champion of the open web and master of the network economy.

  30. Neil Braithwaite

    Maybe the reason so many new start-ups get acquired is because that was their original intent. Or maybe they just lost the passion, or were just to overwhelmed with debt and took the easy way out.In any case, and almost without exception, passionate people who start-up a company find out soon enough that business is business no matter how you cut it. And no matter what they tell you, it does change things.For example: I believe that the business side of Facebook has diluted even Mark Zuckerberg’s original passion. My guess is that once Facebook goes public, Zuckerberg will cash-out, give most of his money to charity, and start some new social venture without the SEC looking over his shoulder.Zuckerberg may not admit it, but he knows that Facebook has become the land-shark of social networks. Trolling the social web, sniffing for blood in the water to find its next meal. And I’m also willing to bet that Zuckerberg truly doesn’t like being the face (pardon the pun) of what Facebook has become on the business side of the social web.My guess is, Zuckerberg will start a new social venture and grow it organically by distancing himself from VC’s, and growing the company “old school” – on pure profit and reinvestment.

    1. johnmccarthy

      “Facebook has become the land-shark of social networks.”Landshark! Candy-Gram

  31. Peter Yared

    on fb copying twitter/quora/4square… 2 sides to that coin, did facebook rip those companies off, or are they just feature companies?

    1. fredwilson

      obviously i don’t think twitter and foursquare are features and theyare building companies around those services to prove it

      1. Peter Yared

        from the facebook perspective, being able to autofollow a celebrity or brand, asking your friends a question, checking in at a location are features. just like how they “ripped off” SuperWall by letting people post photos and videos to the wall. so while i agree that twitter etc are of course viable companies with communities of their own, from the typical facebook user’s perspective these are features that they want and expect to have in facebook.

        1. fredwilson

          They could have offered them by supporting the Twitter and Foursquare APIs.Their users would have gotten the same capabilities and they could “succeedby helping others succeed”

  32. Ben K.

    Fred, you write: Worse is competing head on with them. Look at Facebook. They have ripped off Twitter, Foursquare, Quora, and many more small innovative startups. They haven’t “killed” any of these companies but they have muddled the market and caused users to have to make choices that may turn out to be the wrong choices for them.”If Ford decides to make a small hybrid car to compete with Toyota’s Prius is that muddling the market and causing users to have to make choices that may turn out to be the wrong choices for them? It might be but it’s also not something we should want to avoid. I mean choice is good right? Competition and all that? I’m not sure I follow this call for cooperation by leaving certain spaces free and open for first movers only. It’s not natural to capitalism.

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t think web services are like cars. I think they are like functions inan operating system – the internet OS

      1. Ben K.

        I think web services are no different. The internet OS is a useful metaphor. But it’s not an actual ordered world to be mapped out by a committee of connected VC’s. “You guys will build this, those guys will build that.” Instead, like all business, it’s creative chaos. The digital revolution has been chaos for the record business. It has been chaos for the movie business. God knows it has been chaos for the newspaper business. It will be chaos for people building web services too. What’s good for the goose and all that. And that’s probably what will, in the end, save Hollywood and the cable companies and the telcos. The fact that, in the end, there can’t really be collusion and a level of cooperation that forces single standards.

        1. fredwilson

          where in my post did i suggest that VCs would make these choices?please don’t assume something i did not sayconsumers will make these choicesalways have, always willsheese

  33. ShanaC

    personal question: how much of this cooperation vs domination issue is a result of the “flattening of personality” that the web causes? I keep thinking there would be less to fight about if we came to terms with how communities evolve in the first place. It would be impossible for any service to claim ownership if they embraced that users don’t use services as expected. So all of those logins and checkins and browsing may end up under multiple rubrics of personality, none of which make sense out of context of the service they belong inside. IE: I don’t get facebook questions, I do get quora.It may be impossible for all these services to work together because they add a layer of complexity to the issue of how much can you own a community (answer, much less than you would like to admit)

  34. Merijn Terheggen

    Most people are rather right than compassionate. The same dig-in mentality might result in people focussing on getting a larger slice of the pie and lose sight of the larger pie option. For most people, the world starts with what they can touch and that is their potential piece of the pie. As an entrepreneur, I’ve seen it happen many times. All kinds of stakeholders in a business try to control a potential slice of the pie, deteriorating the whole pie in the process. Your vision can only work when we find out how to create direct rewards for participants during each step of getting to a larger pie. I think that is why great investors support their founders to lead the way.As a VC, you have long been trained in long term value creation and portfolio management. However, who can maintain that vision while being fully entrenched inside a business, on the battlefield of competition and innovation? What leadership is necessary to pull that off? To change industries? Which entrepreneur will work out how to implement this vision into a better business and build an industry on this vision?Fred, can you name some entrepreneurs that are setting steps into this direction? (of the newer companies)

  35. Merijn Terheggen

    Regarding the technocommunist comments: as someone who originally came from a ‘socialist country’ (the Netherlands), I have some first-hand experience with things that seem to work well.Coincidentally, I always try to explain the ‘socialist’ approach as an investment method, not unlike venture capital. Socialist governments that are successful (Netherlands, Germany, Scandinavian countries) make investments like a business would whereas the US does not (individual freedom and corporate power are above the net results of the country as a whole).Government funded education is a great example: although not everyone will succeed at their studies, the overall effect is a higher percentage of the population ending up in better paying jobs and therefore increasing the countries total tax revenues. Over the span of the average professional lifetime of a person, the financial ROI for the government investing in their education is substantial. A great investment and a great example of portfolio investing. The social effects of education and the value of this for the lives of people and society as a whole are not even taken into account.Getting back to technocommunist site of things, I can totally see how an experienced VC like yourself can see the effect of companies investing in supporting initiatives rather than competing or acquiring them. I would sign a letter to Larry too :).

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Anytime someone compares America invidiously to Scandinavian countries, I’m reminded of the famous anecdote about Milton Friedman and the Swedish economist, who allegedly boasted to him that there was no poverty in Sweden. Friedman responded that there was no poverty among Swedes in America either.

      1. Merijn Terheggen

        Anything that looks like comparing countries is a risky business. The example is not meant judgmental or does not imply one country is better than the other (Scandinavia is behind in other aspects) but just differentiates between different methods of investing. Let’s not get sidetracked by country stuff.Just trying to make a point that many things that are considered ‘socialist’ are in fact business decisions because they take overall ROI into consideration as their main criteria, which isn’t a thing that can be said about a system that is largely driven by special interest groups.Also, business (and greed) are still used as the driving force, it’s just taking a larger pie into consideration as an objective too.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          “Socialist” is a loaded word to throw around, because the social democracies you referred to are also capitalist countries, and bear little relation to communist countries. In fact, all first world democracies are capitalist with varying levels of state participation in their economies, and there are socialist policies in the U.S. as well (e.g., Medicare). Social democracies are often also more pro-business than ours in some ways (e.g., Sweden has a lower corporate income tax rate than we do). It’s a spectrum, not a dichotomy.That governments get good returns on investment from some policies doesn’t necessarily mean that those policies were business decisions enacted with ROI in mind (though they may have been, in some cases). Sometimes good ROI in the government policy context is just luck, or is due mainly to the talents of its people. A policy that works well in one place may not work as well elsewhere.In the case of Germany, for example, a lot of the labor policies that ended up enabling Germany to weather the global recession better than us weren’t enacted as business decisions: they were put in place by us after World War II, for political reasons.Also, that we don’t have more effective social and economic policies in this country isn’t because our system is “largely driven by special interest groups”. Special interest groups are mostly active at the margins. Our bigger problems are 1) that our elites generally have a globalist outlook and, consequently, don’t pursue nationalist economic policies, and 2) we have a low trust society, where politicians often advance by exploiting class divisions. Thus, there’s more of a focus on pie-splitting than making the pie bigger.

    2. kidmercury

      government funded education is one of the worst things in the world. it leads to a population incapable of criticizing government and presented with a distorted view of history. also, some studies show that homeschoolers outperform their public school peers.

      1. markslater

        there are many studies that show that Kid. My wife and I are going to be seriously considering it, as long as there are ample ways for our kids to interact with no academic activities. Teachers aren’t broken – the distribution of knowledge is – the internet can and will fix this.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          The biggest single factor in education is the raw material — the kids. Smart parents tend to have smart kids. And when you put a lot of smart kids in a school, that usually becomes a good school.The problem with comparisons of home schooled kids to public school kids, or charter school kids to public school kids, is that it’s usually the smarter parents who decide on home schooling or seek out charter schools for their kids (in fact, the application process for charter schools can be something of a de facto test for smarter and more involved parents).

        2. fredwilson

          the big challenge with home schooling is the social stuff. how willyour kids learn about bullies and bullying? how will they fall madlyin love with the girl who sits in front of them only to be crushedwhen she doesn’t know who they are? how will they learn to play teamsports at recess? or how to negotiate which table they want to sit atduring lunch?this is important stuff and the main reason my wife and I avoided home schooling

        3. kidmercury

          that’s great to hear mark. i hope you and your wife choose to avoid putting your children in the slave training camps. they can get social interaction via community clubs — sports teams, music lessons, dance groups, cultural stuff, etc. your kids will end up more well-rounded and with better social skills than the slaves chained to desks and fed government propaganda all day (and the ever nutritious lunch room diet of course).the main reason the slave camps exist is because we live in a broken economy in which two parents need to work to break even, so they need a free babysitter. enter government to save the day!also worth noting that slave camps are a fairly modern invention. people didn’t always send their kids off to government training centers. the world functioned back when they didn’t. evolution is not always linear.

  36. Ragheed Almidani

    Nice points!Regarding Googe, I hope, at some point, someone sharing a stage with Larry or Sergey will find the nerve to say something to the effect of:”The phrase ‘World Wide Web’ implies that the original vision of the internet was a dispersed, decentralized network; not simply billions of wires converging on Mountain View.”

  37. John Smith

    Ayn Rand would have your hide for this post. You should read (or re-read) Atlas Shrugged. This certainly isn’t your grandfather’s capitalistic vision. Coming from a true capitalist such as a venture CAPITALIST I’m quite shocked to see what I’m reading.

    1. fredwilson

      i’ve read it. it’s on my list of must read books for entrpreneursbut ayn rand is not god.

  38. J.R. Sedivy

    “Succeed by making others succeed” is a great philosophy for and even beyond the Web and mobile.I wonder if the issue is not so much acquisition, but the lack of skilled integration of startups within an acquiring company? From my point of view the acquiring companies could accelerate the founders transition to a new endeavor (and expedite innovation) if they effectively integrated the purchased company into their business.I would view the purchase of the company as good for the founders as they would have capital to start their next idea. Of course, it’s a shame to see solid work go to waste if the innovation is purchased and dies on the vine; both from the consumer standpoint and that of the founders.Thanks for the great insights Fred and I am interested in your thoughts on this.

  39. Valery Satterwhite

    It is the nature of the individuated human spirit to serve others. In doing so we serve ourselves. The outcome is individual and collaborative growth and prosperity. When only the inflated ego is served – whether it be an individual, company, culture of government – the outcome is ultimately a death spiral.

  40. Terry J. Leach

    In my startup I have chosen not to try and reinvent the wheel. I believe there are many web services out there that we can easily plugin to our architecture. This is beneficial for two reasons we are waisting resources recreating the wheel and it will mean faster time to market. However I am more cautious when consider using web services of a large web services acquirers because the service could be dead or neglected. Smaller web services are not without their risks either, but if companies like Google would give smaller web services a boost I’m sure that would attract many others to use the service.One way Google could give a boost to emerging web services and profit from their success without acquiring them is to modify and/or promote Google App Engine as the most scalable infrastructure for emerging web services.

  41. Steve Poland

    Irrelevant to this discussion — Fred did you see this new incubator/co-working space in NYC with lecture halls and offering public classes in same facility: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.c

  42. Mike Hart

    We have seen this come full circle in biotechnology. Pharma originally bought companies to silence them. They then began to understand that in many cases the products were better than their own their own. Now there seems to be more of a symbiotic relationship between pharma and biotech where the discovery of biotech is enhanced by the infrastructure of pharma.

  43. Carine Carmy

    Great post. Are there any good platforms or companies essentially enabling this type of cooperation, or is it up to forward-thinking biz dev folks to chart the path for their companies?

  44. paramendra

    The ecosystem concept: let and let live. For the most part. The dog eat dog is also very ecosystem! πŸ˜‰

  45. Rick

    I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of the InternetOS. Why should I build a feature when someone else has built a product that works 100x better than anything I could build myself?Early on, we realized that trying to build all the features we would need for Ruzuku (think Blogger+Facebook for teaching) would bankrupt us rather quickly. Besides, we’re not looking to build a business around surveys, though it is important for collecting feedback in a course.As such, we made a decision early on: we focus on building the features that make us a unique, and where possible, we would integrate with other apps. But this lead to the next problem: which apps should we integrate with? We could pick Wufoo as our forms/survey provider, but what if someone had an account with a competitor? And that line of thinking led us to our current solution: users can embed anything that has embed code.The solution is powerful and flexible, but it lacks elegance.It’s both powerful and flexible because most apps today offer an embeddable version. Want a form? Embed one from wufoo or Google Docs. Want a presentation? Embed it from slideshare, prezi, or sliderocket. Want webinar? Use Vokle. The only area, IMO, that’s lacking is embeddable blog posts. Seems like a no-brainer to offer a way for people to truly syndicate your content. Hell, as part of the embed code for a blog post, you could even include some ads. But I digress.The solution lacks elegance, though. For several reasons.First, there’s the problem with multiple accounts. You need to have a ruzuku account, plus your wufoo account. Facebook and Google and OpenID are trying to solve this problem. I’m not sure how effective they are being, though, as I still see a lot of complaints and confusion from folks over what exactly it means to sign into a site with Facebook.Second, even if you solve the issue of multiple accounts, there’s still the issue of having to access multiple sites to create this content. I think this is becoming less and less an issue for the more experienced users, but as a platform provider, I would really like to make it super easy for my less experienced users so that they could access your app inside my platform.And, yes, I know that I could provide this level of access by integrating with an APIs (that’s our eventual plan), but there are so many apps out there — and new ones coming out every day. It would be impossible for us to integrate with everyone, which (IMO) kinda defeats the purpose of the InternetOS: the ability to choose the best-of-breed from a variety of services.Right now, it seems, the answer is to get big enough so that other apps do the work for you. I’m thinking Google’s App Store, Facebook apps. These are viable platforms that make the development costs worth it. But it also shuts out the possibility for people to compete with Facebook (can’t provide as many apps) and developers spend all their time building apps to work on the big guys platforms that they can’t chase some juicy niche apps.Why do these things need to be platform dependent? Can there be a standard for this or are the needs for platforms so diverse that it’s impossible to do? Is there a more universal way that we could create apps so they could be more easily dropped into other apps or platforms? Seems like our current solution is only the beginning of the possibilities here.Unless something changes dramatically in the next few years, we’ll probably end up integrating some services on our own before we’re actually large enough to get other people to build on top of our APIs. But it certainly would be nice if apps went the next step and actually created versions of their app that would run inside other people’s platforms without all the additional API work.Anyway, I’ve been wanting to add my $.02 to this post for a few days now. Turns out I had more like $200 to add. Thanks to all who read this far.

  46. kirklove

    Right, but they don’t seem to keep the teams in many cases.

  47. ShanaC

    I want to hear what you will say

  48. ShanaC

    Of course, but it sounds like you and everyone else is part of the trend forprivate private private.One of the problems of this post and the comments is that there seems to bea lot of hampering to the public markets, which makes it in some ways allthe more speculative over what these companies would do – the public marketswould be a lot more punishing to Facebook over the questions thing becausethey know about quora…

  49. Vasudev Ram

    Insightful comment.

  50. Dave Pinsen

    How does ‘Wall Street’s siren song of quarterly profits’ put pressure on Facebook and Twitter, which aren’t publicly traded and hence aren’t required to release quarterly numbers?