What are a Startup's key assets?


ShelfMade CEO, Michael Sabat, muses about the key assets of web-based startups in a recent post on his useful, and not-always-techcentric blog. (Good to get a perspective that sees beyong the forest now and again.) Anyway, according to Michael…

* The 1st priority asset remains the technology or website (including the people who build it.)
* The 2nd most important asset is the user base.

The larger your number of users, the more valuable your start-up is. No surprise that folks at Twitter are focusing their energies on evangelizing Twitter and expanding the Twitter-world. The size of the userbase is a main reason why YouTube got a higher valuation than Crackle, and every other online video start-up.

I’ll add the 3rd priority asset: a Startup’s community. Flickr, Blip.TV (now Shortbrain), Skype, Sling Media, Twitter and Jaiku are all start-ups that benefitted from a passionate community that evangelized for them, helping them grow their user base, and their brand.

My favorite example of company that prioritized these three assets effectively is Slim Devices, a small digital music device maker that recently sold out to Logitech, after holding its own against larger players. It was a company that was recommended to me by Photo Matt, who evangelized it endlessly.

Passionate users are the difference between success and failure. In addition to everything else, they are the best marketers and advertisers for your company. Frankly, they’re more effective than any media outlet I know.

Editor’s Note: Check out today’s Silicon Alley Insider post on MySpace, which makes a supporting argument for why the quality and growth of the community takes priority over the content on a social networking site–something Facebook gets, but MySpace seems to misunderstand.

Again, if you have some suggestions about a startup’s key strategic assets, please share with us.


Om Malik


Spot on. I agree with you 100%. Though I should have included it in extension of your wonderful idea. But then otherwise you wouldn’t have come and left a comment :-)


In most cases community (there may be a better word) springs out of a user base. Evangelism is one form, but what happens when you get a community of developers building apps for your platform, like what is happening with facebook? Are those developers – users, evangelists, partners or are they on the supply side?
They are definitely an asset.

Andre Quellos

Fair point, Om – certainly a critical success factor for any startup ;)

While they may exist, I cannot recall any successful companies that did not at one point have passionate users.

Om Malik


I agree – and while that might be the case – i think the passionate user base is something one can’t underscore. That is why I thought it should be a seperate category (asset) in itself.


If you’re talking about the blip.tv that videobloggers know and love, that’s still blip.tv. Shortbrain.tv is the new name for bliptv.com. To the best of my knowledge, the companies are unaffiliated. I’ve made the same URL mistake. :)

Andre Quellos

To me, your third priority asset (community) is really a sub-segment of Sabat’s second one (user base) and doesn’t really stand on its own. The user base of a company really encompasses its evangelists because most evangelists become passionate after having been users of a product/service, wouldn’t you agree?

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