Yesterday (or today depending on where you’re reading this) marked six months since the almighty Facebook went public. Just last week, the lock-out period for the largest number of shares — 800 million — ended and miraculously the price of FB shares climbed out of the teens. But it’s still nowhere near where it started, and it’s going to take more than subtly nudging us into one day buying promoted posts to get back there.
Mark Zuckerberg’s wallet isn’t the only thing that’s reduced in size in the past half of a year.
With the fear that’s come alongside watching the giant flounder, there also seems to be a loss of competition. Not that people aren’t trying, but for one reason or another nothing’s had the same pop. Remember February, when everyone was planning their Pinterest strategy and Instagram was on it’s own? Google+ even maintained some relevance, and was still growing, releasing new features. Mobile-only networks like Path still had the potential to prove the web as we knew it was done. There were new kids who were actually growing quickly and served a unique purpose to their users.
Well what changed?
It’s not that new networks haven’t launched since then. I’ve seen a number of smaller networks launch (if I hear the phrase “Instagram for video” one more time I may lose it), and even quite a few big name ones make a go for it. Cory Booker-backed Waywire has made a go at a stand-alone video network, Branch has tried to make us rely on the experts (and more importantly their friends), and I’m still trying to figure out exactly what Medium is. But none of those is making headlines. Heck, DIgg has gotten more buzz in the past few months.
This could be chalked up to saturation. That’s a solid explanation at the very least for why Google+ never stood a chance. You could say it’s tech. Video is the next big thing, but so few people have access to all of the technology necessary to make it work perfectly, though they are getting there. It could be a lack of originality. No one knows what the next big thing is until it happens, but until then everyone else will just knock it off.
At heart, I think it’s something else. I think it’s fear.
It’s not that there aren’t hundreds of twenty somethings in the Bay area that are trying to act like real entrepreneurs and build somethings original. But profit is a hard thing to commandeer. It’s even harder to have faith in an untried idea and rely on someone else to make it profitable. Especially when getting snapped up by a big boy like Google is no longer a given.
But the fear isn’t only affecting investors. It scares the creatives. It scares the developers now comfortably working for tech giants. Once you watch enough projects burn, you stay away for the fire. It makes a guy like me far more hesitant to walk away from a good thing and into a world of uncertainty.
I’ve been through an acquisition and watched a startup go from a small venture to a big part of a big company. Some left the Huffington Post and started their own ventures. Few made it. Now even they’re more apt to work for someone than attempt to build the next big thing. It doesn’t help to see even a massively popular endeavor like Facebook flail.
But there is hope, and there’s always innovation. Screw fear.
If you’ve got a startup, or know someone who does, email me. DeanP@huffingtonpost.com. Mention this post and I’ll hear you out. Hell, mention an idea and I’ll hear you out.