Social media
Who needs TV networks and film studios? Netizens are creating their own blogs, photos and videos, and that's translating into hundreds of promising new businesses.
By Erick Schonfeld, Om Malik, and Michael V. Copeland

SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0 Magazine) - The new culture on the Web is all about consumer creation; it's composed of things like the nearly 30 million blogs out there and the 70 million photos available on Flickr. With a click of the mouse, anyone can be a journalist, a photographer, or a DJ. The audience--that 1 billion-plus throng linked by the Web--itself is creating a new type of social media.

That's leading to the creation of hundreds of promising Next Net businesses, like YouTube, one of the fastest-growing sites on the Web. It shows millions of video clips daily, from homemade music videos to Saturday Night Live skits. Anyone can upload a clip to the site, where it becomes public and searchable. Anyone can then rate it, share it, and use it in a blog or website.

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The Internet flattens the cost of economic coordination, and many more people can contribute to producing the same piece of content. On sites like Digg that aggregate news stories and blog posts from all over the Web, it's the audience itself that posts links to the stories and ranks them. (The stories with the most "Diggs" make it to the homepage.) Such voting will be the organizing principle of the soon-to-launch Newsvine as well. But readers will also be able to submit their own written stories or become editors by creating their own Newsvine pages on a specific topic. The best part: Participating contributors and editors will get to keep 90 percent of the ad revenues generated by their pages.

Just as open-source programmers did before them with code, people are putting pictures, videos, blog entries, or even simple Web bookmarks online to share with their friends. But once this content is posted, a surprising amount of it begins to attract a wider audience or form the basis for new services., for instance, monitors all the tunes you listen to on your computer and adds a social-networking twist by sharing your playlist with other users with similar tastes and vice versa.

All these sites are free, and few make money. Their focus is on creating communities and collecting eyeballs; as with most Next Net ventures, the likely payoff would come through flipping themselves to established companies. "Most will be bought by the big guys," says VC Philippe Cases. Then, he says, many of the brains behind the upstarts will take advantage of the low cost of getting off the ground today to "come back with another startup."

See the full list and photo gallery: The Next Net 25 Top of page

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