This Week in Consumer Web– Internet Cowboys

Companies are getting funded left and right, silly ideas exploding and all new wild spaces of the internet needing to be conquered. Similar to the days of goldmining, consumer web is really a real-estate war.

With funding being thrown at companies left and right, you would think it was the dot-com era once again, but actually this is the real Wild Wild West. Before when ideas were funded based upon concepts, not execution, we now see companies with legitimate products being injected with powerful amounts of capital to really kill it. However, as Facebook restrains how fast you can friend people, SEO tactics and software become incestious and products try to overcome the “noise” of the internet, what is clear here is the fight, for real estate. Traffic, users, channels, and location (domain) is all a real estate fight and like the times of the Wild West those who grab the most property wins. In a world where your next door neighbor could be an unknown podcast star, everyone (including companies) are fighting for attention on the interwebs which is why finding what’s relevant will be increasingly important yet hard to do.

Finding What’s Relevant: Apps and Rankings

Surprisingly there is still more information to share and find online. How we score and rank the usefulness of information will become important and unlike manipulating Google’s search metrics, will more people turning to apps. The future of consumer web will be relevance and for many, having a dedicated app for certain tasks will be just it, which explains why apps like FoodSpotting, are getting funding left and right. Distguishing between relevant data and junk is becoming a need for real-time. How do we know if someone or something is really important? This is going to be a battle the next year and Klout, with their recent $8.5MM funding will certainly be leading the pact with more sophisticated ways to measure online influence. (The future of online credit scoring? See this from October 2010)

WTF, really?

Formspring, a simple web tool that allows people to ask each other questions annonymously, recently raised $11.5MM, making the total amount invested close to $25 Million dollars. For a basic question / answer app that has 1/1000th of Quora’s functionality, which is also another useless app. Quora once was cool when a technical question could be posted and responses from legitimately experienced people could answer. Now I’ve got an Australian friend who goes to beer parties (for his job) following my Quora stream? Really? Quora will end up being an interactive and debateable Wikipedia, only it takes too long to sift through and is hard to distinguish what answer is most relevant to you since others vote on their perspective of validation. If they use any of the new cash to make filters and more specific ways to gauge relevance them maybe there is a chance.

Consolidation of Internet Freeways

With all the roads and paths of the interwebs getting built out, more roads will start leading to expressways and expressways leading to freeways. More networks and channels will start to consolidate with each other. 2011 will be the year of acquisitions, not for products or ideas but traffic. Traffic and real estate. Location and traffic. Similar to California’s gold mining days, he who grabs more property will win and those in the internet industry know that if you want to reach users or consumers the best way is a numbers game.

Interestingly enough, some platforms already control a good portion of the world’s traffic (i.e Facebook) which is why those with traffic outside of Facebook or sending traffic to Facebook will become very important. The good part about consolidation of information and interwebs means that it really will take good/funny/relevant data to surface. If the internet becomes so big that even SEO tactics don’t work or there is too much noise to filter, it just means that only genuinely good stuff will surface and be found. Now, thinking that the internet universe will end up being close paths, more of what do look at and do will be trackable.

Fantastic for relevant ads and searches, but what about having that linked to your fingerprint and stored at government headquarters? National internet IDs are not far away either…