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Focus and Advertising

December 18, 2005

I started this blog with the understanding that I wasn't going to blog specifically about my company. However, I've recently come to a crossroads of my startup philosophy and my current startup strategy and it's led me to some questions I thought I'd blog about.

Like many fledgling startups, while in the process of working on my big idea I think I've developed a 'by-product' technology of significant value. This leads me to an interesting dilemma. Do I shift focus and package this thing of value to try and generate revenue, knowing it takes steam away from the big idea?

I've posted numerous times about not obsessing about 'perfect' ideas, but shifting my business focus to this 'side effect' technology, even if it's temporarily, has the potential to radically change the course and destiny of my company. I'm not sure how I feel about this possibility. I haven't had a chance to test the 'goodness' of my first idea yet since it needs more development time. I also hadn't considered exactly what the business model for this new endeavor would be.

I was having a discussion about this technology with a good friend, and he made a very interesting suggestion. In a move that would be similar in some respects to Fred Wilson's post on the future of media, he suggested that perhaps I should make the technology freely accessible. Make the technology freely accessible and use advertising to monetize it. Perhaps I could use advertising to create a revenue stream to keep me going while I develop the original big idea, but like I said, it has the potential to become the company.

I'm also conflicted about advertising. I've heard a lot of good arguments for targeted 'wanted' advertising. However there is the 'slippery slope'. I don't want the desire for revenue to lead to those insanely annoying ads like the flash "PUNCH THE MONKEY" banners. I'd really like to avoid that kind of advertising, but once I start down the advertising path, can I avoid it?

I really know nothing about the advertising business model so I've decided to start doing some research. Anyone have comments about advertising? How many ads would you put up with to gain access to a pretty neat technology? This would be a developer technology and not a consumer facing tech. Does that make the ad revenue model too limited?