Don’t Call It A Killer

    October 12, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

It took me maybe a year of writing on the Internet to understand that any new online business created in a space where similar formats existed would be labeled "[current leader] + killer" and that that was probably, in my grandmother’s language, horse feathers.

Google killer, Office killer, Digg killer, whatever.

True, there are some graveyards out there in cyberspace, littered by tombstones reading "AltaVista, You were almost as good as the World Wide Web Phonebook" and "Friendster, If the road had been finished, you might have gotten there."

However, it seems to me that times have changed a bit – or a lot. With around a billion users worldwide, the Internet is big enough to sustain multiple players on one street. Think of it is as the mall food court model. Nobody says Burger King’s going out of business just because Wendy’s moved in next door.

So consider this age of the Web the Killer-killer. As long as what’s out there is useful, has a sound business model, and attracts the right kind of (note: I didn’t say "large") audience, then it’s likely the site will succeed, so long as the market’s not flooded.

But don’t call it a killer.

In the not-too-distant past (time is much more relative on the Net, though), Facebook opened up its platform to developers and the wild death predictions began. Facebook’s soon-to-be casualties: MySpace, possibly; and LinkedIn, most definitely as its users defected.

Defected to find a Facebook six or eight or ten months later that had turned into a giant toga party. And there’s nothing wrong with a raucous toga party, mind you, unless a piece of digital poop comes flying at you in the middle of networking with a potential client or employer.

Yes, digital poop. Or if you’re on Second Life, digital dildos in the middle of an interview.

Hardee-har har, I’m going someplace where adults hang out.

That’s the direction LinkedIn CEO Dan Nye seems to be taking his website. True Facebook’s openness (temporarily) put some pressure on LinkedIn, but Nye’s restraint may be what keeps it out of the Web’s ghost town. A New York Times piece says Nye will open up the LinkedIn platform to approved developers and ideas:

“We have no interest in doing it like Facebook with an open A.P.I. letting people do whatever they want,” Mr. Nye said. “We’re not going to have people sending electronic hamburgers to each other.”
Yes, or throwing poop and dildos. There’s a time and place for everything and that time is college and the place, apparently, is Facebook.

The goal for LinkedIn, he said (paraphrased), wasn’t to create a place you’d come back to several times a day, but to create a place you could accomplish your goals, cleanly and safely, while LinkedIn makes money from advertising revenue shares and premium memberships.

And that seems rational enough to be a winning model. Not a Facebook killer, or any other kind. Just a place useful to the business-minded.