Short Honk: Topsy

December 3, 2013

Before I lose the thought, I want to capture one of the important lessons from the Topsy sale. You can get the basic story at “Apple Acquires A Social Media Analytics Company For ~$200 Million.” None of the write ups emphasized the important shift at Topsy that made the deal possible. The company abandoned its Web log and social media index and focused on Twitter. Once the change was made, Topsy had something to sell; namely, an easy to use system that made figuring out what was hot and what was not on Twitter. With the shift, an important search and retrieval resource was lost to people like me. For the investors in Topsy, the shift delivered $200 million big ones.

Was it technology? Nope.

Was it better search? Nope.

Was it spiffier analytics? Nope.

It was positioning. As I learned at a recent conference, the same old Topsy is still there covered up with the Twitter baked on enamel and clear coat. And Apple bit.

Moral: Figure out the positioning. That seems to be one key to big paydays. In short, words matter.

With one less resource to use, Google’s control of “information” grows stronger. I will review my initial thoughts in a few months to see if I was right or wrong. In the meantime, party on, Topsy.

Stephen E Arnold, December 3, 2013

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