New tools: Emerging markets

I had lunch today with a Silicon Valley social network/search engine/newsreader aggregator/blogging tools CEO. He talked about the idea that his business will be next-generation web and publishing tools. “No one in the blogging world–except for the people at SocialText, knows anything about publishing systems like Vignette,” he told me (no, he wasn’t from SocialText).

What struck me is that so many of the entrepreneurs in these spaces want to see their core product plus web services–and they all want to do business with either publishers or enterprise companies.

It’s search plus web services, news aggregator plus web services, social networks plus…you get the drill. Most of the people I talk with are not focusing on thinking about collaborating with one another–though they all agree that competition helps to build a market–they’re more focused on how they can expand their core product’s membership, distribution, and product extensions to turn their enterprises into revenue-positive, member rich growing businesses.

A great vision–but amazingly similar across the board–I bet many of the publishers being approached are getting that halo, or echo effect–but then, it is great to sit on the other side of the table and see all the new companies shake their products out, giving the big guns with money the ability to watch and wait.

Another theme I have heard from several people is concern over what happens to these emerging markets if one of the big technology companies–Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Yahoo, for example–decide to come in and build these products themselves. Acquisition or tsunami? Most people admit they are unsure.

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