Eurydice - 6:35 pm on Aug 1, 2010 (gmt 0)
Portals and Search are solutions to exactly the same problem: How do I find stuff on the Internet.
There's a difference between portals and search. Yahoo was just a list of links and then it was taken over by Hollywood. They applied the TV network model (NBC, CBS, etc.) to make Yahoo into a destination with content to attract viewers and then offer the viewers to advertisers. That's a portal.
But the content was too large in amount and diversity. One portal (or even six portals) couldn't offer it all, plus many kinds of content didn't want to be inside portals (corporate sites, adult sites, etc.)
It sounds odd, but few people used search engines in 1995-2001. There were a handful of search engines, incl. Google, in 1998. These didn't work well, they were easy to spoof, etc., but worst, there was no money in it. It took Google four years to began making money (via advertising.)
Search offered a new solution over portals: how to find more stuff, i.e., stuff that wasn't in a portal.
In a way, Facebook has the same features (and problems) of portals. Facebook offers content (everyone's pages, plus games, etc.) to attract visitors and makes money by offering that audience to advertisers.
One of FB's problem is the same as portals: corps aren't going to give up their sites and turn into FB pages. Macys, United Airlines, Citibank, etc. are primarily brands. They maintain their brand identity by controlling their design, logo, colors, fonts, layout, etc. FB demands that everyone use FB's identity package (which reinforces FB's branding and reduces the other corps' branding).
Thus as the social market expands, companies will insist more and more on staying outside of FB's walled garden. The bigger FB becomes, the stronger the pressure against it. The current FB model won't last (and indeed, FB is already talking about an entirely new model).
How long will FB Planet exist? Two days ago, FB said it would IPO perhaps in 2012. Hmmm... the VCs would IPO ASAP to recover their money plus multiples. But if they're not IPOing now, then there's problems.
Investors have put $875 million into FB. FB must IPO for at least $4-6b so investors can get a 4X ROI. However, the idiots want $30B (a 30X multiple). The longer they wait, the more opportunity for someone else to do something (Google is lurking in the bushes) or the web shifts into yet another model. (Remember Webvan? It lost $1 billion in VC money.)
Mark Zuckerberg had better not close his eyes when he sleeps. FB's VCs and investors are desperate for money (VCs made a 2% return in the entire 2000-2010 period) (my cat did better: she catches a mouse every other day). FB's VCs would sell Mark to Al Qaida if they could make money on the snuff video.