Revenge of the dot-com bubble?
I had an interesting one-on-one chat with Reid Hoffman, the co-founder and CEO of professional networking service LinkedIn. Hoffman, who is also on the board of several other private Net firms such as Mozilla and SixApart and is an investor in Facebook, Friendster and Digg, is a little worried that too many venture capitalists are chasing companies with bad business models.
"The consumer Internet landscape is between a bubble and frothy," he said. Hoffman said that he still believes in consumer Internet companies but that thanks to the success of sites like MySpace, YouTube and Wikipedia, there is a rush to fund "me-too" projects.
"The thing is that with so much money being thrown at the Internet, so many half-baked ideas are being funded," he said. "Look at the profusion of photo-sharing sites. Only a small percentage of them can become really meaningful."
Hoffman said he also doesn’t think that podcasting is a legitimate business model and that companies that are just getting into blogging now are probably too late. With that in mind, he said he’s become a lot more selective and cautious when it comes to looking for new companies to invest in.
Our conversation came to an end as MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe approached us to introduce himself to Reid. Strangely enough, the two had never met. DeWolfe was very curious to hear about how much money LinkedIn was generating from ad sales and whether the company had a significant presence beyond Silicon Valley and Wall Street.
DeWolfe and Hoffman promised to meet up at another time. And it makes you wonder ... as all those MySpace teens start to grow up and get jobs, maybe they will need a professional networking service like LinkedIn. Hmmmm.
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