Here lies Web 2.0

John Cable published a blog post this past October titled “The End of Web 2.0?”

His end was marked by the drained IV bag of venture capital that no longer pumped its lifeblood into the veins of all the loosey-goosey ideas hatched to amass audience rather than revenue. When the flow stopped, so did they.

Many are now on life support. Last December, Peter Schwartz published this article in the The Huffington Post. He cites the Web’s most popular social network, Facebook, and the $300 million they earn as having little impact on the expenses they burn. With ad dollars evaporating and their need to add more servers and personnel, their future, in a way, looks grim.

Peter talks about Web 2.0 burnout, and the “longing to return to the wholeness of the physical world.” That has resonated heavily with me for a while now.

As Peter explains, Facebook grows by reaching new audiences but also recedes as old audiences shut it off. They unhook. And go back to taking long walks, reading books, hanging with real friends and seeking some white space in life.

Twitter continues to grow at an explosive rate. In better, more fantastical times, fanciful conjecture such the late Portland journalist Russell Shaw’s prediction that Google should buy it might be exciting. But this would’nt be too thrilling today unless Twitter or Google could explain how to monetize all those millions of disposable and time sensitive Tweets.

The true fate of Web 2.0

In recent months we’ve read about layoffs in the Web 2.0 space. Jaxter, LastFM, Mahalo, Yoomba, LinkedIn and YouSendit are some of the many firms doing everything they can to weather the storm.

None of this comes as any surprise given the state of our economy. But does all this point to a pandemic that could wipe out even the most popular Web 2.0 sites?

It’s still too early to tell of course. But we all need to be prepared. There are plenty hanging on for dear life in real estate.

In order to survive they must evolve out of the primordial FREE waters of Web 2.0, deliver real benefits and start charging their users. This presents a challenge to the many people who have been enjoying and benefiting from these no-cost services.

A couple weeks ago real estate’s largest online community, Active Rain, enacted a controversial subscription fee for new members. It would be absurd to think that AR could continue operating without finding some way to monetize members who use its platform to build their businesses.

Recently, on Twitter I posed the question, “Would anyone here pay for their Twitter account?” Every single single response I got was “not I.”

Really? Mmm. I would. Considering the benefits I’ve reaped from a free Twitter, I can only imagine what I could garner interacting with a paid membership. The thought of Twitter going away because they can’t create revenue from its millions of users who have been spoiled by free is alarmingly sad. 

So given the inevitability that many more Web 2.0 sites will perish, including those inside our own industry, do you have a game plan for what’s next when the free service you’ve been leveraging either goes belly up or starts charging?

You should. After all, it’s not likely that door knocking is going to come back into fashion.


Twitter: 1000wattmarc