GenuineVC David Beisel's Perspective on Digital Change

March 25, 2005

There are many dramatic shifts in the way that technology-enabled services are changing the online world. However, I think of one of the most important meta-trends is the paradigm shift that the CEO of Topix.net, CEO and co-founder Rich Skrenta, iterated in a recent post. In fact, when I first heard him make this argument at the NYC Search Engine Strategies conference earlier this month, a light-bulb went off in my head.

Plainly put, we are in the midst of a paradigm shift from the “Reference Web” to the “Incremental Web.” Currently the web is transforming from a reference medium to an incremental medium.

For the past ten years, the web has been filled with static content using the HTTP protocol. Search engine relevance from for the past five years was derived from link analysis – how many pages have linked to a particular page. The offline model equivalent of this structure is a yellow pages or encyclopedia.

Now, the web is becoming dynamic and ever changing. RSS is a more appropriate protocol to deliver this information. Relevance of content isn’t just about how popular it is – it’s about timeliness. So traditional search relevance is turned upside-down. The offline model equivalent is a newspaper.

(Too?) many called 2004 the “Year of the Blog,” but the opportunity is so much greater than just blogging-related – RSS and the Incremental Web will transform the way that all information is created, aggregated, and delivered. Individuals and corporations alike are now able to “RSS” anything. The key question: what does this mean for the creation of new content and the new enterprise value associated with that content? It’s very exciting.

From a VC perspective, investment opportunities are presenting themselves in all aspects of this content value chain – not just the with much-hyped readers – places like creation, publishing, aggregation, search, contextualizing, advertising, personalization, etc. It’s in this area that I am spending a lot of my time thinking these days.

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