Friday, August 25, 2006

Cooperative Companies

Increasing numbers of companies and organization are beginning to see how the value of cooperation can be far greater than direct competition. From mash-up sites and Web 2.0 to AT&T-Yahoo!, survival in the tech world is dependent on a company's ability to play nice and work with others.

Crunch (TechCrunch, MobileCrunch, CrunchNotes, CrunchBoard - they need an umbrella name) gets this. They recently launched a great jobs site for tech work, along with a couple other notable blogs 37signals and GigaOm. Michael Arrington wanted to cooperate:

The first thing we did when we decided to start building CrunchBoard was ping Jason Fried at 37 Signals to talk to him about partnering with their job board. I imagined an API for entering jobs, and an API for outputting jobs, that could be displayed anywhere. Jason didn't want to partner beyond having me post his listing on TechCrunch, so we built our own.

When I realized Om was building yet another job board I told him flat out I wanted to partner with him, offering to make CrunchBoard a new company and splitting equity with him 50/50. Hell, we could even rename it to something more neutral. Given that TechCrunch has more traffic than GigaOm right now, and that we had already built and launched the board, I thought that was a fair offer.

Om passed on my proposal, and I'’m sure he has his reasons. But in my mind, this is all a very web 1.0 way of thinking. I don'’t want to have my own garden, a sort of mini I want to be a part of an ecosystem. There's no way we can compete with the big job boards fighting individual battles. We need to partner, create a distributed system, and win virally.

Now for the consumer, it doesn't matter any longer how many of these services are out there, since it's pretty simple to subscribe to each's feed and see everyone's postings. But for them, they can provide more value to customers (the job posters) by providing access to a larger audience. And that will drive up postings, causing a positive network effect spiral, and everyone wins!

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