I previously wrote about Markus Frind and his free online dating service, Plentyoffish.com. This is the third and probably last in the series on Markus. I borrowed the first half of this post's title from Guy Kawasaki's blog post of the same title that features a must-see video of Markus and other social network founders at the CommunityNext conference. As Guy points out, one other founder on the panel, Drew Curtis of Fark, also runs a one-person company.
Aiden Henry writes about Markus on his blog, Mappingtheweb,
Who’s the king of the net? You can argue for any number of individuals from Tim Berners-Lee to Michael Arrington to Sergey Brin and Larry Page, but let’s get down to the facts. Who runs the single most successful website (in terms of page views) on the Internet as a one-man operation? Markus Frind.
Markus Frind is a one-man wrecking machine. He has single-handedly disrupted the world of online dating with a super-easy-to-use, free dating site - PlentyOfFish.
In the old dot-com model, disruptive technologies/companies required multiple tens of millions of dollars of venture capital to realize their potential. Because of the scale of the spend, carefully choreographed business plans were de rigueur. In the new dot-com world, the kingpins are doing the following:
- just starting, for fun, curiosity, or a reaction to boredom
- trying stuff out, stumbling into solutions for unmet needs
- striving for good 'nuff
- postponing adoption of a business model
- minimizing or eliminating business planning
- reacting to opportunities or user feedback - or explicitly rejecting them
- using data analysis to prioritize
- automating and tuning instead of adding people
- avoiding venture capital
- becoming profitable
- charting their own destiny
"Everything good that's happened has happened by accident," says Sean Suhl of SuicideGirls.
Technology has become cheaper, easier to use, and therefore more prevalent and faster. With greater numbers of people creating a plethora of solutions at greater and greater speeds, the pace of innovation is increasing.
In this environment, venture capital is certainly not dead. But there is a growing base of anecdotal evidence that venture capitalists are finding it difficult to take advantage of many of these new opportunities. It's not for lack of scalability or the potential to exit. The ethos of founders has changed to fit the reduced capital needs permitted by the technologies. Not surprisingly, most of these new founders are also technologists.
VCs should be concerned because these new startups will take markets away from much better capitalized companies. But the bigger the company, the harder it will fall. The biggest danger is to large, capital- and people-intensive companies in traditional media.