The great thing about being a Web 2.0 entpreneur is that you could build something usable and more importantly, noticeable, on your own dime (or a few friends and family dimes) and get it bought by confused old web media companies playing Whac-a-Mole with startups.
From what I can tell, Google actually has a vision for their acquisitions: Total digital domination from every angle. Hey, at least it's a goal, or a loose collection of many goals. Regardless, when they bought Writely and Jotspot, you could at least say, "Ah... I see, that makes sense. They're building an office suite." Or, when they bought Dmarc, you could say, "Ah... they want to dominate radio ads, too." In fact, that strategy has so much logic, you could even make the connection and ask, "How long before they buy Spotrunner?"
Try asking yourself who Yahoo! or NewsCorp will buy next... or CondeNast. Who the hell knows, really? There are a lot of acquisitive players out there that I think are making bad homes for startups.
What's worse is that, post-acquisition, some very good ideas are showing very little of the inginuity and continuous product development that made them great in the first place. It's not surprising either. If you are independent, you're trying to run for the gold, beat out your competitors, win the game. Within a big company with a little money in the pockets of the founders, it's highly unlikely the push to innovate will continue. Does anyone think Reddit is going to become any more disruptive or gamechanging at Wired? Sure, it might be more users, but expect any innovation to slow to a crawl.
And that really sucks for users. For some of these startups, we only got to see a taste of what they could have been with a little more development. What ever happened to Konfabulator anyway? Did the end users really fair much better with that company in the hands of Yahoo! than the would have had they gotten some VC funding and tried to build a bigger company? The acquisition environment we have now is really killing innovation and cutting companies off at the pass before they have a chance to make a much bigger impact on the web.
Don't get me wrong. It's hard to turn down these offers... but I was talking to an entreprenuer the other day who said to me, "Listen, I've never had the check put in front of me, but to be honest, I want to do something bigger. That's the reason why I got into this in the first place. I sort of feel like I should go big or go home." I'd like to think I'd have the same sentiment, especially seeing what seems to happen to these startups after acquisition.
At what point does anyone start wondering whether or not some of these companies are acquiring just to crush these startups?
What's your list of companies that are currently private that you hope take a shot at something bigger before getting assimmilated?