spock & the business plan.

08Aug07

The much-gossiped about website, Spock, launched today. In a nutshell, it’s people search. Go ahead, Spock yourself.

Now that you’ve spocked yourself, let’s discuss. Spock got quite the launch today with breathless discussions around how some ~20% of all searches on Google are people searches. And how this kind of tightly focussed search could be huge and take share from Google, and blah, and blah, and blah blah. I grew bored and irritated within minutes. Why? Because I couldn’t figure out how this site was going to make money. Why? Jeremy beat me to the write-up and he’s a much better writer than I am. As (almost) every man, woman, and child in the world knows, Google makes enormous amounts of money off those pretty little text ads that come up with every search.  Most of those are to sell things online. Others are to get you to visit their content site which then makes money from pretty graphical banners or more text links from Google. What kind of search hardly has any ads and likely (hardly) makes any money? people searches!

Which brings me to the point of this rant. I wonder if Spock had (has) a plan to make money. I wonder what they pitched in their initial business plan (slides). Was it showing how much Google made on average per search? Or the total size of the search ad market? Or maybe it wasn’t any of these things. Maybe it was just that they’d figure out how to make money later. I’ve always found that quite puzzling. The whole notion that it doesn’t matter how you make money as long as you’re doing something that people like– you can figure out the money thing later. It reminded me of what I saw the first time around. You know, the free delivery on 50 pound bags of dog food that are being sold below cost anyway. That service definitely made a lot of people happy. (Certainly not their investors in the long-term) .

I might end up being way off-base here. Spock might make a ton of money in the end. Maybe everyone will claim their pages like crazy, it’ll be an amazing database and they can just sell generic advertising based on profile info. Who knows. Clearly the sites bandwith and technical costs aren’t astronomical like YouTube, etc. It’s not my intention to slam Spock. But for a brief moment at 7AM this morning as I was going through my feeds in Google Reader, Spock crystalized the question I often ask about a lot of “Web 2.0″: How in the world will this thing make money?!? Have they even thought about it?

Sidenote: I now feel slightly irritated at myself for writing this post. I went to Spock and read about the founder(s).  One of them, Jay Bhatta, is a fellow Rutgers alumnus.  Maybe if I knew that this morning I wouldn’t have written this stupid post. go knights!

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One Response to “spock & the business plan.”

  1. You gotta make your site feed easier to find so people can sign up to RSS feed your blog.

    Congrats on your Ad Age shout!


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