Happy Holidays Everyone! With another year coming to an end and a new one beginning, I thought I would look at what’s been going on in 2011 and over the next three posts look forward to some of the hot topics for 2012. Although 2011 was a crazy, busy year for me, I will try and post more frequently in 2012. Starting with the first topic:
Well, 2011 was certainly the year of the latest tech bubble. Many new and innovative (sometimes not so innovative) companies were spawned this year. I marveled at how the approach to start-ups has changed since Y2K. I ask myself the same question that I asked myself in 1999, “Do they do it for the right reasons?” Like the old Dot Com days – when I say Dot Com days I mean 1996 – 2000, some of the players are in it to do something sort of unique, get their funding, raise the value (or over-value) and cash out. Some of those who cash out go on to the next start-up.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of start-ups. I have always felt it is near impossible to do anything innovative in the context of a large corporation. I’ve seen large companies in many industries pour millions into ideas that are weak or kill strong ideas because they are fettered by bad decision makers who might bastardize the idea before it becomes a product. Large companies that realize they can’t do it within their walls are smart to invest-in or buy startups that have succeeded in getting their innovations out there, already piloted with a user base.
It’s a big game board with many players and some have done well, i.e. Fab.com, Dwolla, Zaarly, Path and Evernote. Then there are some not so new favorites such as Flipboard, Zite, Zynga and Dropbox who continue to succeed.
Some of the start-ups that didn’t make it disappear from the press very quickly, so if you blink, you may miss them. It’s not that they didn’t have an innovative idea but something went wrong. In some cases, they replicated too closely what another startup had already done.
It’s sometimes more valuable to learn from the failures instead of just looking at the success stories. Some of these include Value Me, Solyndra and Food Me.
The startups to watch in 2012
That’s a tough one but I have to say I am fixated on the battle between Facebook and Google Plus. It’s interesting to see how things are shifting when it comes to online social and how people are prioritizing their separate friends’ lists. I think Facebook’s timeline view is the most interesting thing they’ve ever done and the most frightening. It exposes just how much of our lives we post on Facebook and just how much personal information you’re allowing ‘friends’ to see. Anyway, social media is evolving and I think startups like Path and similar, more private social media spaces will start becoming more popular.
I would also keep an eye on the likes of Zite, Spotify, Pinterest and Yammer.
Zite – Could have a huge ripple effect on content personalization for News media in 2012.
Spotify – This could be a serious contender for iTunes in 2012, making music sharable and social in a way that Apple completely missed the boat on. Let’s see how that one plays out.
Pinterest – This is social scrap-booking of the internet. This will get more popular if SOPA doesn’t kill it.
Yammer – Is a solid alternative to having a public social media profile. It helps you avoid mixing your co-workers in with your private social networks. Forget the intranet – that’s so 2001 – A social sharing site that’s only accessible to your company and co-workers is where it’s at.