Monday, June 12, 2006

Getting Off the Bus with Web 2.0

As I was driving to a meeting to go over the development progress of our Web 2.0 community Web site for Wall Street and Micro/Small-cap public companies, I was thinking about the swift changes going on with Web site technology.

We are incorporating social networking (a la MySpace), but with lots of additional tools to accomplish public company capitalization and market awareness. We firmly believe that this is exactly what the industry needs ... particularly where micro- and small-cap public companies are concerned.

Wall Street has deeply ingrained private club-like traditions of going through established gatekeepers. While this "business as usual" works quite well for large-cap companies it is very inefficient at creating any energy around, or interest in, the smaller companies.

On our Web site, these companies and Wall Street investment bankers, brokers, fund managers, research analysts, qualified investors, etc. will be able to connect in an open environment based on Web 2.0 social networking architecture and channel those connections to accomplish their specific business objectives using our tools. They will realize significant savings and increased economies of scale.

These are not socially hungry teenagers though. Our biggest challenge is convincing skeptical professionals, who don't like to waste time, that it will be worth their online efforts to build a strong network and participating in the various news feeds, deal boards, blogs, etc. in order to create more business.

So, as I drove to the meeting, I began thinking about the difference between the old Web of just a few years ago and and what it is becoming today. The changes are fundamental from the user's standpoint. It is not a question of whether to get involved with this type of Web activity in business, but when ... and for a business that is based on connections, like public company finance ... the sooner the better!

So I asked the question: how do you describe the difference between the old Web and the new? That's when it struck me: up until now, using the Web has been like riding the bus. Everyone is treated to pretty much the same experience. You have to go where everyone else goes in order to get where you want. Specific sites, pages and file types may be interactive, but the user experience is passive where overall structure was concerned.

On the other hand, Web 2.0 will put everyone in the drivers seat of a fleet of bespoke vehicles, kind of like having a garage full of Ferraris, souped-up SUVs, speedboats, a mega yacht, a business jet and more. Just pick your ride, turn the key, feel the million userpower engine rumble, start using your customized dashboard full of gadgets, and the world is at your fingertips.

By the way, the ValueRich Web community will be the Ferrari.

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