Monday, July 18, 2005

Geocities reborn?

Yahoo acquired Geocities for a few billion dollars around the height of the personal homepage craze in 1999. But I managed to skip the internet's first "diary" phenomenon altogether. True, I was partially dissuaded by the hassle of learning enough html syntax to make a decent looking personal web site, but the main reason I never created one was that I didn't think anyone would ever visit it. So why bother?

When internet diaries resurfaced, en masse, in the form of blogs, I scratched my head thinking here we go again: everyone still wants to be a publisher even though none of it will ever get read. Yet as I've been sitting on the sidelines waiting for blogs to go the way of the personal homepage, just the opposite has happened.
Pubsub's Bob Wyman estimated that the number of blogs reached a whopping 24 million earlier this year.

My two cents on why Blogs, unlike personal homepages, are here to stay:

  • Blog editing software like Blogger, Typepad and the like have made it easy enough for those with more writing talent than coding and design talent to publish on the web
  • Features like Comment and Trackback emerged to facilitate interaction rather than just promote one-way communication
  • Google's AdSense, which didn't exist a few years ago, created a (micro) business model for blogs. Rather than brag about the tally on their cheesy page view counters, the world's desk chair entrepreneurs can earn advertising dollars.
So, what prompted me to start blogging? Two things, really.
  1. As of late, probably half of the new ideas I have encountered were introduced to me by blogs. New ideas are the lifeline of venture capital, so I decided to step-up my participation in the blogosphere.
  2. I found inspiration in the blogs of a couple venture capital investors that I have been following for quite a while. Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures and Brad Feld of Mobius Venture Capital both author blogs on my weekly reading list. I was particularly impressed to learn that even the venerable Walt Mossberg reads Fred's blog frequently enough to defend his point of view when Fred attacked.
As a relative newcomer to the century-old VC practice of Bessemer Venture Partners, I am excited to be among the first Bessemer investors to maintain a blog. (Okay, so David Cowan beat me to it with his, but only by a week). I look forward to testing some new investment areas and soliciting your ideas, thoughts and feedback.


Ben Casnocha said...

Welcome to the blogosphere Jeremy! Look forward to your posts.

-Ben Casnocha

bidoffer said...

Hi Jeremy,

I read with interest your blogs and that of your partners. I have also recently set up my own blog and believe that this platform is excellent to share experience and "due diligence"

I am partner with a private equity firm focusing on pre-ipo investment in small and medium sized companies in Singapore and and China.

If there is any interest for your investments in these areas, we can perhaps work together.

Daniel Nerezov said...

Congrats on starting Nothing Venture, Nothing Gained.

There is a great VC book by that name. Bill Ferris, I think the author's name is.

Welcome to the sphere! Hpe you have a lot of fun.

Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten said...

I think that saying "No one will visit this blog so why bother" sounds a bit like the quote from Ken Olsen, the founder and CEO of Digital Equipment Corporation in 1977: "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home". We know Olson was wrong and one day we will understand why all the cynics have been wrong about homepages and blogs. It is true: most homepages/blogs don't get any visitors except the author and his/her mom. And a lot of people use that fact to prove their point that blogs/homepages are useless. I think they make the wrong assumption: that writers post to get read by visitors, the more the better. This simply isn't true for everybody. Blogs aren't online magazines who NEED visitors. They are spaces in which authors can speak their minds, just like a diary or photoalbum isn't supposed to be turned into a book to gain meaning. Most photoalbums aren't watched by anyone but the photographer. Same for blogs. Most dairies aren't read by anyone but the girl writing it and her little brother when she isn't arround.

I do agree that the easier blogging tools get, the more people will start blogging and that some blogs might even turn into money making (google ads) magazine-like websites. Just like some diaries sometimes do get published...

I host a website for bloggers called Preople so I am biased.

Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten