O'Reilly Radar has a post describing "six new Web 2.0 startups that have captured our interest and attention. The list is a perfect microcosm of the state of Web 2.0, and why the whole Silicon Valley / SoMa thing is becoming irrelevant. Let's look at them together, shall we?
Acquia: The idea actually isn't too bad - products and services for a popular and widely-used social CMS. The main problem is the name: "acquia" - any guesses as to their exit strategy? Anyone?. Also, their blurb is annoying: "the power to connect people and unleash their collective creative potential in order to achieve great things" - they probably felt great after that meeting.
Triggit: Drag and drop for ads on pages. It "takes the pain out of monetization". Web ads are handy, but people are realizing that it's very difficult to make real money with them. As Giles Bowkett pointed out recently:
To buy a burrito in Los Angeles using my Google Ads income, I need 11,429 page views. That's just a burrito. Water to drink. My blog has ads because it's my little way of saying, 'Thank you for reading my blog. That means you represent 1/11,429th of a burrito to me, and that makes you special.'So - a startup that makes it easier and more convenient to make a dollar a day from massive popularity.
Chirp:First off, their blurb starts with "creates solutions" - hey, 1993 called and they want their buzzword back! They've got money from Greylock Partners and high-ups in LinkedIn and Digg - because they leverage public APIs for Social Networks. See? They're doing that 'social network' thing - throw money at them, quick! And, by the way, how are they going to make money? Advertising? Consumers aren't in the habit of paying their own money for social network apps - and they don't like or ignore ads. They must have some money, though, since they were able to afford a real word for their domain name.
Oortle: Obviously they didn't have the money for a real word domain name. Their flagship applications involve sharing Flickr and YouTube media with a chat interface alongisde. I imagine those early 80s computer ads with families gathered around having a good time - but, you know, virtual, so everybody is actually alone.
JobScore: Actually this one looks pretty neat. One of the comments on TechCrunch noted that it "was far and away the most viable of the entire batch. Solid business model, solid revenue stream. Frankly, it totally outclassed the others." I'm having trouble finding something snarky to say about this one - it's even a good time for a solid job site, with the US economy tanking and all that. Oh well - at least there's...
Tradevibes: "the best way to discover, find and share opinions and information about cool startups." It's a startup - about startups! With a social networking component! This is pure Sand Hill Road bait. It's meta-web-2.0, where the echo chamber gets too small and starts generating feedback.
... and these are stars of the Web 2.0 Expo!
Now, to be more charitable, it's not the companies that are the problem, but the ecosystem they're in that encourages this kind of me-toism, and the fact that these are the ones that seem to have risen to the top at Web 2.0 Expo.
In the end, though, it's not really the ideas that matter in a company - ideas are cheap - but it's the execution. These companies all seem to have pretty good teams behind them, nice websites, and at least nominally functional applications.
Just think, though, what they could do with a real plan for making money.