Sunday, March 06, 2011

GroupOn Did Not Launch At South By South West

Ashton Kutcher at Time 100 GalaImage via WikipediaGroupOn has grown like crazy. But it was not launched at South By South West. And I have an observation to make.

GroupOn has this very clear offline component to it. It has hired thousands of sales people. And its customer base is your very average person, the Walmart types. They want to save money. They want to save money on haircuts.

That is why you do not hear GroupOn and South By South West in one sentence. I never have. Because GroupOn's early adopters were not the kind of people who end up at South By South West.

Overall I feel good about South By South West. But I also have a word of caution for the crowd. You don't want to end up in some kind of an echo chamber where you are only hearing each other. It is possible to collect too many business cards. What are you going to do with them? Networking is a good thing overall, but too many business cards can also mean a lack of focus.

Like the CEO likes to say, I don't go to events.

If you are building stuff that will only get used by other techies/geeks, you might end up with a small circle of users also long term. And that can be okay. Not all products are meant to be blockbusters.

And there was this thing in the late 1990s in the valley. People would raise money. And they would spend a hefty chunk of it on ads on local FM radio stations. So when VCs turned on the radio, they came across ads of companies they had put money in, and that made them feel good. That story did not end well.
Photo of Robert Scoble, cropped from original.Image via Wikipedia
Some aspects of South By South West can feel like that. You have to watch out.

And I guess there is always that celebrity sighting thing. Ashton Kutcher has left the building. You might miss out on Kutcher, but I hear Robert Scoble talks to everybody, but everybody.

Have fun. And tell Scoble I said hi.

South By South West
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