Startup 2.0: Buy Kiko On EBay
By: David Utter
If the Yoosi auction on eBay did not appeal to your inner entrepreneur, maybe Kiko, an online calendar with some high-powered competition, will stoke your competitive fire.
The saga of Kiko's demise attracted more attention within the techie niche when Paul Graham blogged about the company's demise, and others picked up the thread to argue the counterpoint.
Graham's contention held that Kiko stepped into Google's (GOOG) path and was squashed like a bug for their troubles. Google had released its Calendar service, and Graham called that a death knell for Kiko:
What nailed Kiko was Google Calendar. Once that came out, not only did Kiko's growth stop, but a lot of existing users defected. Justin and Emmett told me a large fraction of Kiko's users had Gmail addresses.
The killer, unforseen by the Kikos and by us, was Google Calendar's integration with Gmail. The Kikos can't very well write their own Gmail to compete.
While I don't think this case implies the party's over for web startups, it is significant in one respect. It seems to be the first example of Google benefiting from the Microsoft Office effect. In the 80s and 90s, Microsoft gradually killed off the competitors of its individual applications by making them tightly integrated. Obviously this works for web apps too.
That last paragraph touched a nerve among several bloggers who follow the rollicking world of technology. Publishing 2.0 writer Scott Karp commented that hope is not lost for startups:
If Goggle is the new Microsoft, thats actually great news. Why? Because Microsoft is the old Microsoft, and they are now chasing Google, which demonstrates the precariousness of market leadership. And the cycle is speeding up.
So Google has more cash than you " a LOT more. And theyve hired a LOT of smart people. But that doesnt mean they are always smarter. Smart people do notoriously stupid things. And it doesnt mean they have cornered the market on innovation or creativity.
Kiko may or may not be the play for the entrepreneur seeking a cash-laden future in web applications. Gossip site Valleywag called Kiko "the best calendar service since 30boxes, Google Calendar, Yahoo Calendar, and CalendarHub," so there is plenty of competition, including big names with money in the bank.
Maybe the future for a reborn Kiko would be as a tool one could tailor and sell to others as a service. This would be the Eurekster model, where the company focuses on being a provider of tools rather than a destination play itself.
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