When he’s not coming up with self serving pseudo communities like Squidoo, (am I too harsh? maybe…) , Seth Godin has lots of excellent marketing insights such as this one that suggests the big innovations come from passion about the topic and not from the quest for the holy big buck, which Seth suggests forces people to *stop innovating* too early. He cites Apple Computer, Google, and others that really do support the hypothesis.
I don’t think this is the *main* story of success however. I still prefer to view success as an evolution of ideas where 99.9% become “extinct” and .01% survive due to forces outside of the control of the company – forces like global economics, weather, personalities, lucky timing, zeitgeists, etc, etc.
We tend to look only at “survivors” and forget that an analysis of corporate success would take a large number of company starts and follow them to their demise or success and then look at the factors that led to their fate.
Flickr even suggests an evolutionary model both as idea and within the company. Flickr started as a game maker rather than a photography sharing community. Flickr’s evolution seemed to be a combination of luck, serendipity, brilliance, and (Caterina Fake might say most importantly) her realization of the potential of the “little idea” that became a huge online community. Also important is that from Yahoo’s perspective Flickr probably needs to generate a LOT more cash before it’ll be considered worth the $20-30 million they paid for it. Hmmm – I wonder if founders Caterina and Stewart are eyeing Yahoo’s possible 1 billion dollar offer for Facebook with any envy?
“Dear, we should have held out for a hundred million more!”
But as Seth suggested these innovators are not in it for the money so no worries there I’m sure…. hmmmmmm……