Web 2.0 Madness – Division 2 – Round 1

(Introductory post here, Div 1 Rd 1 here)

Time for another 16 teams to face off!  This is the second “Company / Website” category.  Again, some companies had to be moved around due to being owned by other competitors!  And, of course, comments are welcome.

(1) Apple vs (16) diigo
Apple is the most admired company in the US, according to Fortune magazine.  Diigo is a small collaborative bookmarking and mark-up service which has a passionate following.  Diigo is without a doubt a clear example of what we call Web 2.0, whereas Apple is best-known for having proprietary interfaces and being fairly closed in their practices.  So you might think a #1 seed is getting knocked off, except that Apple’s iPhone has brought the mobile web to the masses, and that is directly leading to a revolution in how social web tools work.  For just that, I’m going to give Apple a pass for this round.

(2) Amazon vs (15) mashable
Amazon is the most well-known Internet vendor, and has been doing business for almost 15 years. That’s not enough to beat out mashable, though, one of the best known blogs for following Web 2.0 trends. What pushes Amazon to victory is the totally natural way they have led the way towards the social web — customer reviews, wish lists, and other “sharing” technologies all directed towards simultaneously increasing customer satisfaction and Amazon market share. With their recent moves into cloud computing Amazon is showing just how serious they are about maintaining their reputation as a leader.

(3) Mozilla vs (14) Slideshare
Mozilla is, depending who you talk to, either a foundation, a corporation, a product, or a mascot.  But no matter what it is, it lines up with the Firefox web browser, the biggest competitor to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and major innovator in the web browser space.  Slideshare, on the other hand, has a wikipedia entry I could reproduce in this paragraph without difficulty.  They take documents, convert them to flash, and make them viewable online.  We’re not talking collaboration here, just sharing, so I’m hard-pressed to see the unique value.  Mozilla takes the cake.

(4) Zappos vs (13) Meebo
A shoe store versus a web-based IM client seems like a strange matchup.  Zappos is “just” a retailer, right?  Not exactly.  They have embraced social media in entirely new ways, work aggressively towards having every customer leave “delighted,” and are someone Amazon should be watching carefully in their rear-view mirror.  Meebo lets you, well, do what Trillian could do years ago, except on a web page.  Lots of people swear by it, but frankly I don’t think anyone is watching Meebo in their rear-view mirrors.  Zappos wins with most of their starters resting after the second quarter.

(5) Netflix vs (12) Pandora
When I made the brackets up, I had no idea this interesting matchup would fall out of the mix.  Netflix pioneered a new business model and is poised to survive the death of physical media with their many streaming options. Pandora is making piracy irrelevant and creating individualized radio stations, poised (again) to survive the death of physical media.  Both are fascinating studies of how the content industry has lagged behind technology and what can be done to deal with that fact.  The difference is that while Pandora is on the verge of collapse, Netflix made over 60 million dollars in 2007 (the last year information is available).   Money talks, and I think Netflix will be “talking” for a few years yet.

(6) FriendFeed vs (11) Dell
Friendfeed is the one service I want to be more active on than I am. The future of the social web, to me, is all about using your existing social networks to narrow down the firehose of information into something you can manage, turning all your friends and connections into filters and aggregators.  The long-term mission of friendfeed fits exactly into that, even if right now I don’t find them compelling enough to dive fully into.  Dell, on the other hand, is a fairly traditional consumer products company.  They made the list because they have executed exceedingly well in the social media space (they claim to have made a million dollars off of twitter business last year).  While making a million off of twitter is big news, it’s not visionary.  Friendfeed wins and I’ll continue to watch them.

(7) eBay vs (10) Techmeme
Everybody knows eBay. A giant auction site, it also is the parent company of Paypal and Skype, two major enabling companies for things we take for granted now (micropayments and VOIP).  Their feedback system is a big part of how they stay credible, which fits them as a Web 2.0 player in my book.  Techmeme is an automated blog scraper which looks for trends in technology news and reports them.  It’s interesting technology but feels very Web 1.0 to me — there’s no human element.  This game is not going to be very exciting — neither offense really brings anything flashy to the table, and eBay wins long after everyone has already changed the channel.

(8) Microsoft vs (9) Yelp
In one corner we have the undisputed king of software.  While nobody likes to think of them as future-minded, the truth is they have long led the way when it comes to encouraging their employees to blog about their jobs, and now people look up to the software giant for advice on how corporations can appear more human.  In addition, their games division has created a giant social network for their XBox players.  Yelp is a relatively new entrant to the Web 2.0 melee, a growing customer-review database and local search service that has yet to turn a profit.  Search always gets my attention though, and specialized social search is something I think we’ll be hearing a lot about over the next couple years.  I don’t know if Yelp is the Next Big Thing, but it’s clearly on the radar.   So, here’s the question – is Yelp’s potential enough to overthrow the Redmond giant?  I say yes, especially given their use of web community features on their site.  Microsoft may be a giant, but it’s not surprising anyone in the Web 2.0 space.  Yelp is getting attention, so we’ll give them the buzzer-beater shot from mid-court to win the game.

So your winners today are:

  • (1) Apple
  • (2) Amazon
  • (3) Mozilla
  • (4) Zappos
  • (5) Netflix
  • (6) Friendfeed
  • (7) eBay
  • (9) Yelp (Upset)

Stay tuned for the first round of the remaining divisions!