MediaBistro and GoBigNetwork CEOs on Online Social Networks

and more from today’s conference.

– Laurel Touby, CEO, MediaBistro

Journalist by training.
Was Managing Editor , working from home.
1993: started media cocktail party in E. Village. No thought of a business model.
We called it a salon to make it high-minded.
She wore her bio and forcibly introduced people to one another.
It all started in a little tiny party. Every time I heard what customer wanted, I added it. At first, I had no money and no business experience.
Grew into email newsletter because people told her she was spending too much $ on postcards.
1997: Then community told her she needed a website
Overnight, people started flooding her site with user-generated content.
Became full-fledged online community.
She didn’t think of it as a business, until she saw Monster/HotJobs, and realized she probably should start charging for job listings. (she was earning $20,000)
She told community: pay me if you’re happy with results from advertising for jobs on my site.
So in April 99, she got 8 checks for $100.
So then she stopped writing and started writing a business plan. She got funding, staff. Moved out of bedroom.
Started figuring out how to be CEO.
Next added classes & seminars , during post-dot-com bust.
Next, membership and subscriptions.
Will soon be adding a social network. She’s not an expert yet.

Wil Schroter, CEO, Swaplease, and Gobignetwork (3mos. Old).

swaplease is $1B market place for auto leases.
He used to have parties for entrepreneurial community.
Highly disconnected community
Wanted to have easy way to route requests to right destination.
Only 3000 companies so far on the site

Teten: I asked how do they keep the ‘haves’ in the system?

Gobig is designed to solve problems for people, who are willing to pay for a solution to their prob. They don’t serve the MLM people (too small) and the top VCs (Sequoia). Few people want to meet the MLM people, and the top VCs have no problem getting deal flow. It’s the people in between whom Gobig serves.

On MediaBistro invites, they say: no students, no freelancers, no interns.

Moderator Bartlett: Who are the successful online networks?

Touby: Myspace, Flickr.
Schroter: social networking is a platform, not a business.

Schroter: TheFacebook is a great dating tool; that’s the problem it solves.

Teten: Amazon and ebay are highly successful social network sites.
Schroter: When building swaplease, schroter looked for a highly disconnected community where the internet could bring together people who could not otherwise be together.

Who will fail?

Schroter: Friendster. Not well defined.