One of my heroes, Steve Blank, has just given a terrific interview over at Giga Om. Here’s the money section that starts almost exactly at the 14 min mark:
What is that I want to do in this bubble? As I said, in this one, the valuations are not going to be based on concepts. I think they are going to be based on either large networks of 10s or 100s of millions of users, or they’ll be be based on high revenue growth, or maybe a combination thereof. I would use the money to buy scale as quickly as possible. I would use the money to buy visible as quickly as possible. Not for BS, but to promote the first two items. And that’s an opportunity that can easily be squandered if you don’t think about it strategically. The goal in this bubble is to be the largest possible business, not to become boo.com. Boy if you are smart entrepreneur with a big pile of cash, I believe you can engineer a liquidity event from God.
Here’s the entire video, cued to the right spot. Enjoy!
Bill Gurley has posted a great piece about Google’s business strategy that has turned into today’s “must read” post. In it, he accurately describes Google’s ad words as its “castle” and its open source strategy as its “moat.” Simply put, Google creates, supports and gives away platforms like Firefox and Android that enable Internet access in order to ensure its lead position as the default search engine everywhere.
As Bill rightly points out, direct assaults on Google by land look pretty hopeless. It looks pretty dark for direct competitors like Bing. It also creates collateral damage by destroying any business that wants to make money building a phone operating system or browser. But does that mean the castle is perfectly defended?
I believe that Google has a massive vulnerability, but it isn’t from a direct search competitor. Essentially, Facebook is substitute for search, not a direct competitor. As people discover products and services socially, they will go directly from intent to purchase–bypassing search entirely. This threat is not theoretical; indeed, one of customers at SocialFeet has truly zeroed its SEM budget in 2011. While dramatic, I think this move is a leading indicator of where smart merchants are moving. If so, this is very bad news for Google’s adwords castle.
This dynamic is an air attack, and Google’s castle, despite its incredible land moat, looks entirely defenseless against it.