Web startups are nothing but ‘live’ online resumes (and why they don’t always work)

It seems that just about every day that goes by we hear about some new web startup launching and looking to be the next big thing. Every month there seems to be more tech conferences than you can shake a stick at all for the purpose of showing off these startups, and the ones that are in *cough* stealth *cough* mode.

Given that 99% of these flash in the pan startups are following the free is great business model I have long maintained that their only real business model is to be acquired by one of the big boys, like Google, Microsoft or even in some cases Yahoo.

So it was interesting to read a post today by Jason Roberts who is probably best known for a web clone of PowerPoint where he is quite blunt about his reasoning for starting Preezo – to be acquired by Google.

The previous year Google and Yahoo (with the purchase of Oddpost) had replicated much of Microsoft Outlook’s functionality and responsiveness with their new email services and it seemed pretty obvious to me that the rest of Microsoft Office would be challenged in much the same way. The only uncertainty was how long it would take before that happened. My feeling was that while Google and Yahoo were likely to move fairly quickly I could still get there first and if I did I would be perfectly positioned as an acquisition candidate. While that’s not exactly how things played out, it seemed like a pretty solid bet to me at the time.

As Jason pointed out later in the post Google went shopping somewhere else (buying Zenter) and Preezo has faded away even though it got all kinds of favorable press on launch.

I’m not suggesting that all web startups are just a roundabout way to getting a cool job with one of the big boys, Groupon and Facebook are good examples of the small minority that buck the trend, but in most cases I believe that is the best that they can hope for.

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