Wakoopa – one of those things that I don’t get

There are things that are as obvious as daylight.  There are things that I need to research and think over to understand.  And there are things that feel like I’ll never understand.  Wakoopa is one of them.

I first heard about Wakoopa back in April when I was in Amsterdam, at The Next Web 2008 Conference.  Wakoopa is a European social network that unites people who want to share the information about software they use.  If you are one of them, all you need to do is register at the network and download client software to install on your computer.  Once you are done, Wakoopa will track which software you use and how (often).  It will then upload these information to the social network, where you will be able to find other people who use the same software (advice? shared experience?) as well as other software that people similar to you use (expanding horizons?).

The booth of Wakoopa startup was one of the busiest at the conference.  And the company went through a few investment rounds, one of which I just read about in The Next Web blog.

And I still don’t get it.

First of all, I have the feeling that software moves to the web.  Not all of it and not as fast as I’d like it to, but the future seems to be pretty much web-based.  Secondly, those people who are technically literate enough to find, download, and install Wakoopa, are, I belive, literate enough to figure out their issues with current software and find similar software if need be, using nothing by Google and IRC.  Thirdly, there is this evergrowing privacy concern, that itches every time words “tracking” and “sharing” are used. Fourthly, there is the question of licensed software vs. pirated software, which needs to be addressed by way too many Windows users (primary target for Wakoopa software and social network).  Fifthly, there are likely to be quite a few conflicts between people at work and corporate sysadmins. Sixthly, …

With all that, I can still see that there will be a few people here and there who would probably like to participate in this experiement.  But, the thing that I don’t quite understand is how this experiment became so large.  I mean, there are millions of investment, thousands of users, and lots and lots of hype.  I don’t get it.  Anyone care to explain? Or guess maybe?

P.S.: Not that I am jelous of Wakoopa or anything.  They are doing something that apparently has a lot of demand, so I wish the best of luck to them.

So, it is possible …

Earlier this year, when I was a start-up co-owner, I was trying all sorts of different ideas on how to keep web oriented technology company alive.  One of the ideas along the way was cheap and fast web design, using well-established platform (yes, you guessed it right, WordPress).  This one was among my favorites …

Eventually, the start-up didn’t survive.  And I am not much sad about it.  It was a fair try and I learned a lot from the experience.  But that idea … I liked it so much that it was painful to see it die.

Today, I learned that the idea actually works.  And not only it just works, but it’s a base of a successful business.  These are some good news for me – failing to implement a good idea properly sounds less silly to me than trying to implement a broken idea.

Blogging Pro runs an interview with Chris Garrett, owner of The 449.

What is a startup?

There is a lot of talk about startups on the web.   But what exactly is a “startup”?  Different people put different meaning in the word, and sometimes it gets very confusing.  Here is one example I came across recently:

 The reason I get asked this is that I left a perfectly good start up called Preemptive Solutions to come here. When I say “perfectly good” its one that I am a co-founder, is now 10 years old, and was President (which I later became VP as I decided I wanted to live away from the HQ).

Somehow, a 10-year old company didn’t fit my understanding of “startups”.  From a quick definition check at Google I like the one from Oakridge Venture Capital best of all:

 New business venture in its earliest stage of development.

This fits my understanding perfectly.  And with this in mind, I think that most companies grow out (or die out) the “startup” stage in their first year or so.  If the company survives that period, it starts getting some routine in it (procedures, practices, paperwork, traditions, etc).  The culture of the company shapes up.  Most of the “what is good and what is not” issues are ironed out.  Etc.  And then it’s not a startup anymore.

What’s your understanding of startups?  How can you say if a company is a startup or not?

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