Have We Entered The Era of The Functional Web?

The New York Times has an article on how the potential sale of Yahoo! to Microsoft could be bad for minnows, i.e. small Silicon Valley companies looking to be acquired. I think this is a short sighted viewpoint.

In the late 1990′s dot.com era, the web was slanted too much towards wall street involvement that led IPO’s that were questionable and in retrospect not advisable.

A force outside the web, namely Sarbanes-Oxley in the Enron aftermath, has made the IPO considerably more challenging to achieve and costly to navigate – even for highly legitimate ideas.

In the web 2.0 era, the slant often went way too far to the left in terms of engineering. Some ideas with little actual business purpose have received unwarranted acclaim and without artificial sources of acquisition, some might not even exist.

Before I go onto explain why that development might create an alignment that I’ll tentatively call the functional web, let me state that I think there are plenty of other companies out there that could emerge to pick up the slack such as Fox, Intuit, Apple or any of a number of traditional media companies who “get it”.

This web might emerge even if the Yahoo! acquisition does not take place. If the functional web emerges a place where engineering and business purpose mix in equally important parts instead of the excesses in one direction or another, who potentially gains and who potentially has something to lose?

Potential Gainers:

- Strong Internet business skill generalists with strong system architecture, product management and the ability to network with geeks and non-geeks alike and iterate from feedback will be in higher demand.

- Companies who would like to challenge the big three who would get an opening.

- People who understand how to create revenue models that could provide for great stand alone businesses.

- People pushing for Sarbanes-Oxley reform to reopen the IPO spiggot a tad. They will push even harder.

Potential Losers:

- Funding sources who either fund ideas in a me-too fashion or just because they’ve known the people since the dot.com era and/or those who can’t define and lead a path to monetization or bring strong execution partners to the table.

- Domain name squatters and sellers.

- Passive executive recruiters who will have to actually analyze comprehensive skill sets instead of simply poaching from a direct competitor.

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