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Community Blog / Frankenstein Functionality: Entrepreneurism and Diversification

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What makes an entrepreneurship reputable, engaging, and reliable? Well, there are too many answers, opinions, and statistics. One thing is for sure, there needs to be one great service or product the entrepreneur oversees. Obviously this is not the case every time, a bakery for instance needs to make lots of baked goods, but it ought to be good at baking. A car dealership might have cool accessories and warranty packages but the bottom line is cars need to be sold, and this is true in any venture. In lighter circles this is known as a ‘shtick,’ that thing that the entrepreneurship is known for.


Just in the same way an entrepreneurship has a shtick, there are countless examples of foolish attempts to introduce something other than their shtick. In one specific realm you can take a look at mobile apps and social networking. Everyone’s got a shtick: Facebook and Like, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and whatever, they all have some thing they do particularly well. That doesn’t mean they don’t try and copy one another.


Facebook’s Snapchat Poser App: Poke

In mid November 2013 Facebook offered to buyout Snapchat, for the second time. This is not uncommon for the social media giant, as it bought Instagram for nearly $1 Billion in cash and stock in April of 2012. The shock with such a crazy valuation sent ripples throughout the social media landscape and perhaps reaffirmed a sense of entrepreneurial silver linings to many tech startups. The second time Facebook made an offer for Snapchat, which is theoretically cheaper to run than Instagram, was for $3 Billion! What did Evan Spiegel, co-founder of Snapchat do? He turned it down. The man may have lost his mind, or he might be a genius or he might not know what $3 Billion is.


The most interesting part of this situation is the offer (regardless of the value) was a gesture showing that the small startup Snapchat defeated Facebook’s attempt at battling the app head on. In early 2012, Facebook had launched ‘Poke,’ an app that literally did the same thing as Snapchat. Obviously some trademark features were tweaked to avoid blatant copying, but for the most part it was an app that sent pictures with text on them to friends. It failed miserably. The $3 Billion offer was two billion ‘sorry’s!’ and an extra billion just for kicks.


Why did Poke fail? Well, despite Snapchat capturing the market for a method of communication they invented… or discovered, Facebook thought it could dance in foreign territory. Instagram was a successful invasion but it ended with Snapchat. Facebook is for social networking on a very grand scale requiring fresh and updated personal content in order to stay relevant. That is what they’re good at.


Facebook is concerned that with lower rates of usership among teens and youth in general it may go chill with Tom at what used to be Myspace’s headquarters. Actually, only some people think teens are fleeing Facebook for Snapchat and Twitter. Others argue that it isn’t a real problem as usership is higher than it has ever been. There are only like 7.5 billion people who can use Facebook, there are no more humans than that. Growth has got slow down.


What is the lesson here? Entrepreneurs need to consider finding the flaws in their own shtick that make users gravitate toward other modalities of services. With Facebook perhaps increasing anonymity and the universal lack of privacy could help bolster the services it provides instead of just buying out the competition.


Also, Facebook has a ‘Like’ button, perhaps the next step is taking a cue from Reddit and installing a ‘Dislike’ button?


In any case, a more indepth discussion regarding this burgeoning rivalry can be found over at HuffPost’s Stephanie Yang page.


Google: Buzz the Wave

Google also had it’s fair share of overreaching its boundaries in terms of marketshare. In 2009 Google released Wave, and as Ben Parr of Mashable said at the time:


Google Wave is a real-time communication platform. It combines aspects of email, instant messaging, wikis, web chat, social networking, and project management to build one elegant, in-browser communication client. You can bring a group of friends or business partners together to discuss how your day has been or share files.”

It was magnificently complicated but promising in that business might be more telecommuting friendly. Instead of being on a phone with someone across the country hoping that your communication skills were enough to get the job done, you could now precisely show what you mean and vice versa.


Google Buzz, which was launched a year later streamlined all of your Google content in your gmail. It turned your email into something like Facebook’s Newsfeed. The usership spoke for itself and with the advent of cloud computing Google decided to go into a different and more functional route. Obviously they launched Google+ and it will not be going away as it is being forced upon users of other Google products like YouTube.


What’s the Lesson?


There is a noticeable difference in Google’s strategy post-Wave. In Google’s cloud based office suite, real time editing and sharing is totally possible and moreover it’s completely sensible. That’s the difference in functionality, Google adapted, regrew and executed and did it’s shtick: improving functionality over copying the competition (except for of course: Google+, purchase of YouTube, imitating MapQuest, Picasa to compete with Flickr and Android to compete with Apple).


So, how is the Entrepreneur to manage?


You’re a bakery, and if you want to sell deli meat you can, but you’re going to have choose which one you’re known for. A good solution to this issue is selling your bread to a deli so they can make sandwiches with your fancy bread. It’s the same thing Facebook did by not changing the name of Instagram and Google not changing YouTube’s name.


Adapt but too much diversification can lead to a dilution of what an entrepreneurships primary function and services are.

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