As a journo, the most useful time of my career was when I edited the IT channel publication Australian Reseller News. As a general tech journalist, most of the time you spend your time wading through crap and marketing speak. Down there in the channel, at least back then, you got to speak to really, smart people who hadn’t yet been wrung out by the marketing sanitisation process and subsequently I was fortunate to have a lot of really sincere, intriguing conversations with a lot of really smart people about how they made money out of IT.
The single, biggest lession I took out of the cumulative knowledge of all those folk was to follow the money.
You can’t make money where there is no money to be made. Doesn’t matter how good your product is. Doesn’t matter how much you change the world if there ain’t no money in the cookie jar, it doesn’t matter how many times you go a-dippin, you’re going to come up empty handed.
Conversely, if you go into a market where there’s already great big wads of moolah flying through the air, then all you have to do is do a better job than everyone else who’s clutching for the cash and you go home with a bounty.
By rights, you should be saying Duh, about now. It’s pretty simple stuff really, isn’t it? Then why do I look at 80 per cent of companies profiled in TechCrunch and find myself saying ‘who’s gonna pay for this stuff’. ‘How they going to make any money?’
A lot of people seem to want to engage me over the merits of things like social software, tagging, yada, yada. It’s not my beef. My problem is the application of the technology to problems that either don’t exist or that people won’t pay to have solved.
I don’t think it’s being “snarky”, not to want to see a whole bunch of businesses go belly up. Have you ever run a business and lay awake at night wondering how you’re going to pay the bills when you wake up? Ever been made redundant? These kinds of things are not fun. These things are not glamorous. Do we really want to see the day when Mike Arrington’s parties become a wake.