Riding the Hypecycle

Two weeks ago Business Week featured a cover story, “Blogs Will Change Your Business.” Just another mainstream media recognition that blogs are having a profound effect on not just traditional media, but also the business world as well.

And just as the mainstream acceptance – and excitement – begins to take hold, one of the leaders (Pete Blackshaw, CMO of Intelliseek) in the movement voices a bit of concern. His ClickZ article “Irrational Blogguberance?” suggests that we may be overhyping the potential that blogs have to offer.

Is this really the case? Are blogs not all that they are cracked up to be?

I would suggest that the adoption, and more importantly, the hype surrounding blogs is and will continue to follow the Gartner Group’s Hype Cycle. Succinctly stated, this Gartner theory maintains that the emergence of any new technology follows a well-defined path towards maturity – first a technology trigger, followed by inflated expectations, disillusionment, enlightenment, and finally reaching the plateau of productivity.


I believe we’re still on the upward slope towards a peak of inflated expectation. Though Rick Klau suggested two years ago that we were well beyond it at that point. Only time will tell, as history only becomes clear in retrospect. Regardless, expect to start seeing more grumblings of dissent claiming that the blog promise is overhyped.

For now, I think Pete’s critique is both fair and thoughtful. He articulately lays out a number of reasons why the picture isn’t perfectly rosy. I would especially highlight his comment,

“Think less about blogs and more about RSS. As marketers, we may be too consumed with the word “blog.” The bigger idea fueling what some refer to as “the second push revolution” is RSS, which is becoming a de facto publishing standard, whether emanating from blogs or regular Web sites. Content is published, users subscribe, and data are seamlessly delivered to personal blogs, RSS readers, My Yahoo!, and the like. RSS basically brings the time-shifting concept of DVRs to the Web. This consumer choice and control is what “new” marketing is all about.”

This point I cannot stress more. As I’ve blogged previously, RSS isn’t just for blogs. While blogging has brought RSS to the forefront, the myriad of other RSS uses will lead the Internet’s transformation towards the true Incremental Web. Along the way, we will have to rise through the peaks and valleys of hype associated with any new technology, but the fundamental value is real and is here to stay.

David Beisel

David Beisel is a co-founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. He has been focused on early stage Internet startups his entire career, both as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. As an investor in the digital media space, David was most recently a Vice President at Venrock and previously a Principal at Masthead Venture Partners. Prior to becoming a venture capitalist, David co-founded Sombasa Media, an e-mail marketing company best known for its flagship product BargainDog. Sombasa was successfully acquired by About.com where David served as Vice President of Marketing. David holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an AB in Economics, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Duke University. He also founded and leads the Boston Innovators Group, an organization which holds quarterly entrepreneur events drawing a thousand attendees.

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