Wikipedia’s Initial Idea and How it Evolved

Wikipedia as we know it today, with more than 3.7 million articles for english version alone, had a different idea and business model altogether in the beginning that many people may not know it now.

As the story goes.. In 1999, Jimmy Wales had an idea, he wanted to create a free encyclopedia to be written by experts and PhD holders, it was called Nupedia. He reasoned, only scholars, academics and experts in a particular field would be able to write such articles. It made sense, as scholarly articles needed a lot of referential data and research, not everyone would be able to write such articles. However, in its first year, his team of “experts” were able to write only a dozen articles. They were simply too slow. This was due to many reasons, most of the academics were too busy, it was difficult to convince them to write for Nupedia, research normally took few years..etc.

So, Jimmy Wales saw that it was not working, something had to be done. He came out with a new idea. He suggested to his team, why not make it in a way that anybody can create an article, others can edit it, etc… basically early years of crowdsourcing. But the editors of Nupedia and Advisory Board were not very supportive of the idea. For them it was the opposite of what they were doing at the moment. Non-academics, and uncontrolled editing and creation of articles, they thought, would jeopardize the credibility of the articles and company as a whole. They reasoned, there would be too much error in the articles, which would render the articles useless for any scholarly reference or research.

This new idea ended up separated into different project and was called “Wikipedia” (wiki – hawaiian for quick). Within a year, there were more than 20,000 articles in it. Clearly it was a success and it was working. As for the margin of error, it was 3.86% per article, compared to 2.92% for Encyclopedia Britannica according to 2005 research by journal Nature, which is acceptable. And usually these errors get corrected over time.

Eventually, Nupedia was shutdown in 2003, and it had only 23 articles at the time of closing. And as they say, the rest is a history…

Lesson to Startups and Entrepreneurs..

Sometimes the initial idea for your startup may not work out, and you might end up doing something totally different for your startup and its direction. And this phenomenon is actually very common in startups. As Jawed Karim of YouTube said in SVC2M event in Kuala Lumpur, their initial idea for youtube was “a dating site with videos“.

So, if your first version of your product (MVP) didn’t take off, don’t despair. Find out why it didn’t take off, get feedback from your potential customers/users on what they want, after that iterate and try again!

Note: If you want to read more about wikipedia story, check this Business Week article here

Please feel free to comment about your own experiences or of any companies that you know which changed their business model, direction, idea drastically from the original one.

Next Big Idea: Internet TV

If you are an entrepreneur or company that missed making big money from the dot com era, overall internet business after that, and missing the boat from mobile applications at the moment… then perhaps you should start getting prepared for the next big wave – Internet+TV.

Google is already into it as we all know it, they are trying to figure it out at the moment. But there are so many great products and services can be built for bringing internet to the TV. Just a food for thought!

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Creative Marketing/Advertising with PayPal

People are getting more creative in their marketing and advertising efforts. Look at this below, they don’t send you emails anymore, they send you money (cents to be exact).

Was it affective? In my case no, because I didn’t signup. However I did have a look at their page. So, it was effective in getting the traffic to the website, but ineffective in converting the leads.

Three methods to make your blog successful

Everybody wants to make their blog successful, be it for financial reasons or personal reasons. Whatever the intention may be, there are certain ways – if you follow them, you can make your blog successful. That’s an almost guarantee! Of course each has it’s own challenges. Let’s discuss:

Before we proceed.. we will assume that you are posting regularly, at least one post a day. Otherwise, inconsistent posting will just chase away the readers. You will even end up loosing your existing readers. (Posting too much posts will have the same effect.) You don’t have to be full-time blogger to post consistently, you just have to be little determined to succeed. That’s all.

1. Be Original

Being original and writing interesting posts in your field of expertise, will definitely get you regular readers. Being original here means, writing your own opinions, predictions, ideas and articles in your field of expertise. Just because everybody has created “Make Money Online” blog, you don’t have to create one on that topic too. You can blog about something that you like and still make money. Believe me there are millions of people (out of 6+ billion world population) who would like to read what you write, whatever the field that you are expert in (or at least have vast experience).

Field of expertise is the keyword here, and if you actually like what you do, then it’s even better. Because when you like something, you will less likely to stop it in difficult times. If you blog just because you “have to” then, it’s likely that you will stop blogging at the first crisis in your life. Whatever the crisis may be, it will be enough reason for you to stop blogging.

If you love what you do, it will give you that extra edge. Because when you love something, you won’t have that pressure about finding topics to blog about. It will come naturally. And since you are expert in your field, you can always rely on your expertise.

  • Traffic: Main sources of traffic for these kind of blogs are from Search Engines and referrals from other blogs
  • Growth Level: Slow but steady growth
  • Strategy: Good for long-term blogs who wants to establish a name (brand) or authority  Continue reading

Jack Ma’s Philosophy on Shareholders

MBA books teaches you that – shareholders are the most important stakeholders of the company and that company’s main objective is to increase shareholder value.

However the founder of Alibaba.com, biggest online company in China, says that for him “the most important groups are customers and then employees. He says that customers are the ones who pay him and employees are the ones who stick with him but shareholders come and go. And for this reason, shareholders come last for him.”

That’s a very interesting point that he makes. Read his other two company philosophies on TechCrunch here. Watch the full interview here.