Friday, May 16, 2008

The pitch has been invaded

The always brilliant Econtalk has a delightful interview with Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine. Chris referred to two things he had discover recently which - and please forgive the hyperbole - completely blew my mind.

No. 1 Google are running a totally free, regular telephone directory inquiry service in the United States (called Goog441)- its purpose? To train its algorithms to understand the human voice.

No. 2 A young software entrepreneur pitched him a great idea recently - his plan? Turn a $3 billion industry into a $3 million industry using his software (you read that right).

As the marginal costs of providing a lot of services (mostly online, but not all) tend towards zero, a lot of businesses are giving it away for free. But it's not just about free stuff, it's also about the radical re-configuration of business economics in a world in which the fans invade the pitch and play the game themselves. And not just economics - it's happening to politics, education, democracy, culture and an awful lot of other stuff besides:

And I happen to think it's glorious ...


  1. Thought you might be interested to know that they nicked this idea from , bought by Microsoft recently for circa 800m. Why is it important? because people are "dialing the web" via voice recognition. It has yet to really take off from a consumer point of view, but it might only take "one killer app" a la mobile browsing and iPhone.

    The idea of taking a billion dollar market and crunching it down to a 100m dollar market through new business models is something VC's are asking for because it shows their is an existing target customer with a proven spend. It is much harder to find a "blue ocean opportunity".

  2. interesting Paul - I'd completely overlooked the deal. Also here is the url of the Google service (411 not 441 as in my post):

    Your point about VCs is great. I'm reading 'Four Steps to the Epiphany' by Steve Blank (a powerful how-to manual for any startup) and he makes the same point about the benefits of rule changing business models that outsiders can risk but not insiders.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...