Bubble Flashbacks (SMH:”Online buying frenzy”)

Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse with SMH, image via ProBlogger

If you’ve been in this industry since the last ‘bubble’ then, like me, you must have a little shudder when you start seeing headlines like we’re seeing at the moment. Sure, its exciting times… but just how different will this boom be compared to the last? Is this just another bubble too?

(And, if it is, will I be smart enough to make sure I’m retrenched by a company who still has money left to make retrenchment a happy thing!)

It’s exciting to see an article about blogging as one of the feature articles of the Sydney Morning Herald this morning. I’m looking forward to the day that the majority of people understand what blogging is and why people do it. I keep forgetting that these things that are now such basic infrastructure to my life – Gmail, blogging, Flickr, Delicious – are largely unknown in the ‘real world’.

(Actually, I’m doing a bit of user testing next week on the project I’m working on and one of the things we want to find out is how much tools like Flickr and Delicious and Google Maps have started to penetrate into the awareness of the ‘general public’. I’ll let you know what we learn from that soon.)

TradeMe

What the article in the SMH today made really clear to me is the difference between the businesses bought five years ago, and the ones that we’re seeing transacted today. In the case of three featured this morning, TradeMe, SEEK and Stayz, both are not new businesses – TradeMe has been around since 1998 and Stayz was kicked off 4 yrs ago. In both cases, our newly rich entrepreneurs have built their businesses with a lot of hard work. The SMH reports of Sam Morgan (TradeMe):

From 1998 he spent several years driving around his native Wellington in a white ’72 Holden Belmont stuffing letter boxes with photocopied flyers trying to encourage people with junk to list it on his website.

This is reassuring. Back in the old days, you didn’t even have to get to Beta before you could sell your business. These are established businesses with established and proven business models.

Which means that you can’t really call them 2.0 buys. These are very different to Google buying MeasureMap before it’s even in Beta.

So then, I wonder if there are any Australian equivalents to MeasureMap or Delicious or Writely kicking around at the moment? What’s our industry working on that will make me *really* nervous when I see the next article in the SMH about someone selling off a *new* 2.0 business for a nice chunk of cash with a business model that everyone is concerned about because its unproven?

Even with my flashbacks and my old war injuries from bust we had to have, I’m still overwhelmingly confident about the opportunities that are opening up now and that, I hope, will continue to grow for years to come.

I’m hoping that with every new 2.0 business there’ll be at least one veteran involved in charge of reality checks and remembering the silly things we did before when we took too much money without really knowing what we were going to do with it, or if we could make any money back.

And I hope that there’s someone evangelising the Getting Real methodology of fast and lean and interative development and conversational marketing and implementing it in these new businesses all over the country (yes, and the world, but I’m having a small patriotic moment).

This boom doesn’t need to be ‘big business’. Actually I think it can be small business. Lots of small businesses with lots of customers. Then, hopefully, its not just a boom, but a new economy.

eh. Now I sound like someone out of my flashbacks!

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