Web Researcher Offers Close Look into Web Success, Failure

TechCrunch's editor tells it like it is regarding what it takes to earn success-and failure-in a dog-eat-dog, Web-crazy world.

SAN FRANCISCO—Which so-called Web 2.0 site will become the next MySpace.com, Facebook or Flickr? Wouldnt you—along with all those savvy IT venture capitalists in those fancy BMWs—like to know?

Well, TechCrunch.com founder and attorney Michael Arrington seems to know, and he was willing to share this valuable information at the first Future of Web Apps Summit at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre here Sept. 13-14 in the Marina District shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge.

TechCrunch, founded in June 2005, is a Weblog dedicated to "obsessively profiling and reviewing new Internet products and companies," according to the description on the site. In addition to new companies, TechCrunch profiles existing companies that are making an impact (commercial and/or cultural) on the new Web space.

Arrington edits TechCrunch and also writes a companion blog, CrunchNotes.

Arrington spoke to about 350 participants in a 60-minute morning session.

"So you want to start you own Web site business. The good news is, yes, you can do it; the bad news is: Its not easy," Arrington said.

What Constitutes a Winner

Arringtons first example of a Web site success was MySpace.com, the social networking phenomenon.

"MySpace has grown four to five times what it was a year ago," since being bought by News Corp. in July 2005 for $580 million, he said.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based MySpace, founded in July 2003 by Tom Anderson and Chris DeWolfe, offers an interactive, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music and videos. MySpace also features an internal search engine and an internal e-mail system.

"There is an example of a winner, right there," Arrington said. "MySpace did everything right, from the beginning. The owners were single-visioned; they worked hard, focused on what they did best, got just enough VC money to make it work, provided an excellent service and Web experience; and now theyre rich."

And still working, it might be added. Last time we looked, Anderson was still CEO of MySpace, long after the buyout.

Arrington listed some other "established" hit sites:

  • Writely (online word processor)
  • Ksolo (online karaoke, music sales)
  • TruVideo (transmits video to heterogeneous mobile environments)
  • Digg (IT news, comment)
  • Facebook (social networking for 18-35 age group)
  • YouTube (post your own short video)
  • Photobucket (video/photo sharing and networking)
  • Popsugar (celeb gossip, photo blog; getting 13 million page views a month)

"There are a lot of different paths to winning on the Web," Arrington said. "But these and other sites that are succeeding all have a few things in common."

Arringtons Common Attributes 1, 2 and 3: "The founders of these sites all love what theyre doing. They have a passion, and the site they run is interesting," Arrington said. "They also all know how to build community."

Next Page: Timing a major factor.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he has...