Sometimes, I do a better job making a point when (instead of sitting at my keyboard) I engage in a deep conversation with a colleague about things I see in the marketplace.  The give and take of conversation can't be matched IMO — and I'm a visual thinker/learner.

I had a conversation recently about the current social media phase we are in with startups.  I sortof bucket companies in a few tiers:

  • no-brainers — companies that will exit for a massive amount of money & will have staying power.  The ones that totally redefine markets in/near them — although their evolution could drastically change what/who they are.
  • tweeners — those that may exit for a massive amount of money, but could very well go extinct because they either don't execute well or they don't ever achieve *real* traction outside of what is fed to you by the PR engine.
  • the DOA — those that enjoy hype early but are doomed because market or economic forces will overtake them.  These are also companies that are perhaps too visionary as they are skating to where the puck will likely be in the next cycle or beyond.

I think there are two no-brainers right now — Facebook and Square.  Facebook has been a no-brainer for a long time.  I include Square here because they have nailed product simplicity/elegance and nobody right now really threatens their ability to sign up thousands of local businesses daily.

I'd include LinkedIn with the no-brainers, but 1) they've already exited and 2) I am concerned about their lack of product innovation over the years.  They just don't have the best track record although LNKD could be significantly different as a publicly traded company.  Then again, if there is a quarterly revenue target, you may see less innovation and more quarter to quarter revenue/profit focus.

Twitter may evolve into no-brainer status with their Apple integration — that was certainly a great move for them.  However, without that deal they were a classic "tweener" company by my definition.  Twitter has not graduated to mainstream usage, although every major media outlet mentions Twitter in an attempt to relate to younger audiences.  I also suppose you can get tweets from just about any celebrity today.  But Twitter otherwise is not a no-brainer deal — something that appeals to the mass market and is used regularly by the mass market.  It's a high bar, I admit.

All of the location-based services are "tweeners" to me or worse, although I like recent moves made by the market leaders.  None of them have proved repeated usage, but if they do, they're golden.

You'll have to talk to me privately about "DOA" companies — I simply won't mention any here in the Notice Technologies blog. 😉

How do you evaluate what is truly interesting and what is hype?  For me, it's pretty easy at the moment.