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Marc Andreessen gives you a roadmap to Internet success

Video as distribution channel

Marc Andreessen gives you a roadmap to Internet success

While Marc Andreessen is getting a lot of, well, ink about his “kill print” interview on Charlie Rose, lots of folks are missing the point. What Andreessen – as knowledgeable about this stuff as exists out there – does in this interview is lay out a road map for businesses looking to leverage the Internet to achieve success. Since he’s done this himself, twice – once as a founder of Netscape, the second as a founder of Opsware – and has strong ties to others doing it today – on the board of directors for eBay and Facebook, founded Ning, invested in Twitter and Digg – his map is better than most.

As for that map? It’s interwoven throughout his conversation with Rose. At about the 8:30 mark, Marc starts talking about Viacom suing Google for copyright infringement on YouTube, claiming it’s “…180 degrees the wrong strategy.” What Viacom ought to do, says Andreessen, is “…let all the videos go onto YouTube and then every time there’s a Viacom video on YouTube there should be a buy button.” In Andreessen’s view, YouTube is a distribution channel. In fact, he calls it the ultimate distribution channel for video content.

He’s right. So right that YouTube has done just that (see the picture above and its larger version).

Then, around 20 minutes in, Marc hits the money quote, “If you can get it to scale, you can build a business around it.” He suggests that things that don’t work, don’t scale, referring to Bill Joy’s “It works” feature (i.e., lots of technology products lack that “feature” and don’t work).

Finally, he talks about successful products that get the end-to-end value proposition right. For example, Amazon’s Kindle.
And the iPhone. Netbooks. Laptops. Games (especially online, multiplayer games).

So, the roadmap looks like this:

  1. Innovation happens
  2. Scale happens
  3. Business success happens

Now, why should small business owners care? Simple. If you’re looking at a potential distribution channel, or a potential marketing channel, but don’t know where you’re supposed to spend your time given the dizzying array of options available, look at Andreessen’s map first:

  • Does the channel offer any innovation? (Or successfully copy someone else’s, adding the “It Works” feature)?
  • Does it scale?

If these first two items exist, the likelihood of the third – business success – goes way up. Notice which ones Andreessen invests in? Facebook. Twitter. Digg. Do they pass these tests? Yep.

What else does? Mobile (particularly the iPhone and the Blackberry).

The point is you don’t have to chase each new thing that comes down the pike. Just look for the one’s that pass Andreessen’s test. Put your energies there. That’s a roadmap to success we all can follow.

Don’t have time to watch the whole interview? You can view some of the highlights here. But, do yourself a favor. Catch the whole thing

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Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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