Congratulations are in order for startup company Yammer , which just won the very prestigious TechCrunch 50 startup competition in Silicon Valley. Over 1000 companies applied and 52 were chosen to present at no charge to a very distinguished group of corporate and media digital luminaries such as Marissa Mayer, Mark Cuban, Don Dodge, Robert Scoble, Mark Andreessen, and many other major corporate decision makers and online influencers.
Is is sour grapes that I think they’ve picked a dud here? No – Matt Ingram Agrees and he is ALWAYS mostly right. Our not-yet-launched Retirement startup was rejected – perhaps because we really were offering a great business model in our demo presentation but no new technologies. Frankly I was impressed watching several of the presentations. The programming side of things seemed very inspired as people had created elaborate game worlds, powerful photo grouping software, a collaborative music mixing environment (BoJam), and several more clever innovations with online technologies. For this reason I was very surprised to see the judges rate Yammer so highly.
Yammer is a fine idea and application, but it seems to simply be a modification of the Twitter idea for company use. As far as I can tell is very unlikely to do the two things it needs to succeed: Replace people’s use of Twitter, including a Twitter than could easily be modified to do the same thing as Yammer, and be used in place of other company messaging systems that can simply copy this layout, use a modified twitter, develop their own, etc. IBM’s not going to start Yammering and small companies are going to Twitter.
So, as with many of the amazing technologies presented at TechCrunch there appears to be little revenue to be had.
No, this isn’t just sour grapes for being one of the 950 or so TechCrunch LOSERs (we actually could have presented in the “Demo Pit” at the show but opted out of that due to cost and time). My thinking is that the best course of action now is to bring the *existing* tool sets to bear against old problems in existing businesses. We don’t need a new travel *application*, but we certainly need better ways for people to research trips without too much advertising pollution or misleading information.
Then again, when I look at the most hyped of the startups, Ashton Kutcher’s BlahGirls I wonder if I’m just hopelessly…. i mean … like … Blah Blah Blah!… in the wrong business.