There’s a great post on Ron Garrett’s blog entitled ‘Top ten geek business myths’, about the lies geeks tell themselves about their startup business.
Many of the entries in Ron’s list strike a chord with me from my days getting WebAbacus off the ground. In particular I remember fretting about the amount of competition (in our case, web analytics companies) already in the market when we started up in 2000. At the time, the major competitors to WebAbacus were Webtrends, Accrue and NetGenesis. Other players like WebSideStory were in the market, but had no presence in the UK.
But it turned out that the presence of competition was a blessing: Webtrends helpfully educated the market (to an extent) as to the benefits of web analytics, but then was acquired by NetIQ and stagnated for several years, leaving a ready-made market of angry customers that we could approach. NetGenesis was acquired by SPSS and disappeared into an abyss. And Accrue, having built their business on the dotcom bubble, imploded spectacularly, taking themselves out of the running.
I can’t say that I predicted any of this at the time, so it’s difficult to say what the learnings from this were, except that seemingly strong competition in the early stages of a market can turn out not to be nearly as strong as you think. The situation’s quite different now, of course, but there will still be surprises as the web analytics market takes its final shape over the next few years.