Google, slayer of Web 2.0 start-ups

It's an ignominious step for any company: Listing your business for sale on eBay. Yet that is exactly what Web calendering site Kiko has done, in what appears to be an abrupt end to its high-flying ambitions of only a few months ago.

Kiko had been one of the small companies cited often in fueling the Web 2.0 boom among small businesses with promising technologies. Its precipitous fall has many wondering what happened and whether Kiko is a harbinger for other start-ups.

It's too soon, of course, to say whether the second dot-com bust is already beginning. Nevertheless, as Dharmesh Shah writes on, it's well worth reviewing Kiko's experience to help others from suffering a similar fate.

Kiko obviously isn't the first Web 2.0 company to stumble and most certainly won't be the last. But as Shah notes, its credentials were particularly noteworthy as a case study: "It was one of the prototypical Web 2.0 companies (a free online calendar with AJAX, written in Ruby On Rails and funded by Y Combinator). It doesn?t get much more Web 2.0 than that."

Shah's post-mortem observations are all relevant, but one axiom stands out: "Google Is The New Microsoft."

When we were covering the browser battles of the mid-'90s, people would say only half-kiddingly that avoiding competition with Microsoft was part of their business plan. The same can be said for Google today, but that defensive strategy is even more difficult because Google itself hasn't always made clear that it knows where it is headed.

That makes it the ultimate loose cannon. And there may be no effective defense against that.


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