Making sure the sum of the parts does deliver value
And now, a look at two extremes of the modern web and the services that we all use. There are big companies we like, there are small companies we adore. But what can the megacorps learn from the internet start-ups? One for me to discuss in more detail.
"What makes these small companies special when they are out on their own is the almost laser like focus they have on their users and what they do best. They can be dynamic and react in just a few minutes – few people need consulting, committees do not need to be formed, and the holistic knock-on to another department in a mega-corp is not a consideration."
That paragraph sums it all up Ewan. By their very nature big companies strangle the "produce" and a good independent idea becomes a mediocre add-on.
> By their very nature big companies strangle the "produce" and a good independent idea becomes a mediocre add-on.
Well, that trips off the tongue nicely, and fits neatly into the usual lets-bitch-about-the-big-corps mould that so many geeks seem to adhere to. But it's not actually true, and that level of pessimism is unnecessary.
I'm all for small nimble companies, heck I own and run one (a mobile software/web development outfit) and so I should be against the big co's, right? No. Big co's bring advantages, and can inject vast amounts of life into a startup that's barely puttering along. Dopplr (one of who's founders I worked with and knew) has been a very niche service, with a real geek slant. Being bought by Nokia means potentially many more users can take advantage of the service, and it'll become more rounded and useful to people (and hopefully they'll shift the codebase off Ruby on Rails which is a total waste of server power ;-) ) and that is where the real blessing in buy-outs lies.
Nokia are doing a grand job of wasting all of Ovi Store's potential, but that doesn't undermine the advantages of big companies running services. The progress-by-committee approach is horrible and a potential death trap for many good ideas (it's what made Windows Vista such a travesty) but where a company allows autonomy (the more the better) within a project, it can potentially have it's cake and eat it to a large degree.
As with anything, there's up sides and down sides. I for one am happy to see small good companies bought out provided they are effectively used. Ironically I'm not up for my own company being bought but that's because I need to stay independant for reasons not related to this discussion