Too Much Social Whatever?


Yesterday, I had a chance to catch up with Bill Burnham, general partner at Softbank Capital Partners. Sitting at Bucks in Woodside, it was good catching up with Bill, who has always been one of the more colorful VC types I have come across in my years as a journalist. That is ironic, given that Bill (who looks like Timothy Hutton), invests in decidedly geeky companies like contextual search or grid computing. It has been a few years since we had talked – I had moved away to New York and the whole nine yards. Anyway as I managed to consume tons of coffee and a massive (and I really mean Massive) Apple Pie, I asked him about what’s the state of the valley? A former Wall Street analyst, Bill riffed on the dumbness of this whole Social Networking thing. “People have we not learned from past four years,” he yelped, drawing sharp looks from those around us. I am sure, four out five parties at Bucks must have been drawing up a plan to launch a Social Networking company. (We were the fifth party in the house!) No profits, no clear line of sight to profits and sustainable revenues, he thought that this whole Social Networking thing was a big of flim-flam. I could not agree.

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You and me both Karl, vision is such a tricky thing – only a few hundred folks in the valley have it, and some of them happen to be guys in the VC business playing with other people’s money


What business model? It’s a dressed up game of Magic the gathering for ego crazed dot-com-ers who are bored with a simplicity of a palm pilot -hyped by programmers who want it to be their cash cow so they can escape their mega-corp cubicle programming job and make up for missing the boat in ’99.

I can’t for the life of me see this as anything other than an social web-novelty. Perhaps I lack vision. :)


well it is true that friendster had a chance to be sold, but hubris. i think it is only a matter of time before this bubble really blows. what can one say. i am still not sold on this business model as yet


One or two of the companies might work – I think of VisiblePath and Spoke as examples of that, and probably one of the consumer-oriented networks. What I can’t believe is the rumor that Friendster had an opportunity to be bought by Google and turned it down. They will probably regret that if it’s true…

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