I just saw that Salon might be up for sale. Oh, and MySpace, too. Earlier in the same day that I read this, I sent a Happy Birthday email to John Furrier (most famous for running PodTech in the good old days). There are MANY things up for sale in the online world these days.
The question is this: should you buy or should you just build your own?
Considerations on Building or Buying
Factors that you might consider before deciding whether to build your own MySpace/Salon/PodTech or buying one of these platforms that are for sale:
- Do you have in-house knowledge to build your own?
- Is this core to your business goals?
- Could you do something with this?
- Why is it for sale? (If they couldn’t make it work, why do YOU think you can?)
- Is this the best use of your money?
There are Opportunities to Build
In my role as entrepreneur in residence at CrossTech Ventures, I’ve had conversations like this with Stephen Saber tons of times. They started a few years ago when this guy called us to sell us an instance of his software. He then called asking if we wanted to invest. A short while later, he asked us if we wanted to buy his company. Later, he said the code was for sale at pennies on the dollar.
This experience has repeated a lot lately.
The Nugget in All This
But do you want to build or buy? I would have bought PodTech when it went up for sale. They had a huge list, a lot of assets, and I think I would’ve been able to make the business work by going back to what made me love it back in 2005. I wouldn’t buy MySpace. I wouldn’t buy Salon.
In MY thinking, the assets have to be really paired well with relationships. I know that MySpace has a huge list, but I don’t think that the future of that list is positive without a lot of rework. There are relationships there, but not enough assets (for ME, I’m saying).
Same Thing With Sharing Branding
As someone who co-founded an open-sourced event ( PodCamp), I am kind of poking at this, so take this for what it’s worth. Why buy into someone else’s brand when you can build your own? Are you franchising? Or are you a new brand? There are benefits to both models in all things. There are drawbacks to both models in all things.
See why this is important?
The question, though, is worth thinking about, especially with your own business, your own products, your own everything. Are YOU worth buying, or are you something that others will build themselves? (Interesting to phrase it that way about one’s self, eh?)
P.S. The better person to write a post like this would be Dharmesh Shah. He’s a smart guy. Maybe he’ll write his own thoughts on this one.