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Build to flip?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 by Dave Winer.

Lots of interesting developments yesterday, and I'm glad to have a front row seat. Actually in some cases I have a seat in the dressing room, so I have to be pretty careful about what I say.  Permalink to this paragraph

First, New York has become much more interesting in the tech world. I spent just two days hopping from rock to rock, and didn't land on most of them, but wow, there's something going on there. Permalink to this paragraph

In New York as on the west coast, some companies are built to flip, meaning they don't intend to be standalone companies. They were just building features or market share, intending to be bought by a big company, probably Google.  Permalink to this paragraph

Pretty sure that bit.ly, a company I played a role in founding, was running a Build To Flip plan. I think we found out yesterday that it didn't work.  Permalink to this paragraph

I think in general, even if your plan is to flip, you should run a company as if no one will buy it. That your liquidity will come in the form of profit from sales of services and products to users. It's good discipline. Keeps the team focused on who and what's important. Permalink to this paragraph

Had bit.ly been running such a program, they would be a lot further along with Bit.ly Pro, a service they announced yesterday, probably in response to Google's announcement of their URL-shortener. (If it wasn't a response it was an incredible coincidence in timing.)  Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named bandAid.gifMy issue with bit.ly is the instability it adds to an already-fragile Internet. They removed one element of the fragility yesterday, or showed how they plan to remove it. You don't want every link on the realtime net to go through one domain. Now you can have your links go through your own domain. But I have a better deal with Adjix, one that removes the other part of the stability problem -- they also mirror my data to a bucket that I own on Amazon S3. So, if god forbid something bad should happen to Adjix or Joe Moreno, I just point the r2.ly domain at the bucket and everything keeps working. No broken links. Should both Amazon and Adjix fail, and there's still an Internet (a fair question) I can take the data and move it to another server and it will work just as well there. All it depends on is Apache or some other static HTTP server. When bit.ly does that, they will really have a Pro version. This announcement is a Band Aid, to stop the bleeding after Google (presumably) said no to buying them. Permalink to this paragraph

Back to New York. Permalink to this paragraph

The big question I have for the brilliant young tech startups of New York is this -- are you trying to become an outpost of Silicon Valley or are you wanting to build a new layer on tech, independent of the west coast?  Permalink to this paragraph

BTW, it's not all a rotten mess on the west coast. I have become a huge admirer of Matt Mullenweg and Automattic in the last year (not that I wasn't already smitten before). They did two beautifully disrupting things in 2009 all while growing their freemium cash-generating business -- they implemented rssCloud and the Twitter API. And the year still ain't over. Permalink to this paragraph

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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.


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