Update: A few hours later… I was away from the web for a few hours, and Guy left a few comments with corrections. I incorrectly assumed he was an investor in Popurls, secondly, there is no technology sharing between the sites. The talented Thomas Marban the creator of Popurls sent me an email also as confirmation. As soon as I saw these comments, I immediately made the corrections on the post, and responded with a comment. Sorry Guy for the incorrect assumptions. Despite these incorrections, the rest of this analysis (esp the marketing) I still stand by.
In the following analysis, I’m being very unbiased and third party to this week’s product launch and marketing of Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop product.
Alltop, a Vertical feed aggregator
Recently, Guy Kawasaki launched yet another new web venture, Alltop. The site which offers a series of aggregated web pages that show the top feeds of any given industry, are what I call a vertical feed aggregation. There are versions for Autos, Celebrities, Fashion, Green, and one called Egos.
Guy is an investor in popurls, the engine that powers the many versions of Alltop. (update: correction, Guy is not an investor, nor does the Popurls engine power Alltop)
[Guy Kawasaki launched a commodity vertical feed aggregator, leveraged existing content, and use influencers to market the product on his behalf. Although lacking in product innovation, it was saved by clever marketing.]
Low development costs
The fixed cost for creating a single master template and stylesheet probably took a talented UI designer less than 4 hours. Coding it for development probally took less than one day, there’s not a lot of new functionality added. The production work to analyze all the right feeds to put into the site, and populate each version took the most time. (Update: Since this was not powered by popurls, then Guy’s comment below is correct, there’s other development beyond UI)
Leveraging existing content
Here’s the brilliant part: the content creation. Rather than creating new content, Alltop is simply an overlay over existing content, and by aggregating to one location, creates marginally increased value for someone that doesn’t already have these feeds in a reader.
Marketing launch: the Influence model
Guy lead with the egos site, which contains the feeds of some of the top tech blogs in the industry. There’s a diversity of different races, a few women involved, and it played well to the egos. Techcrunch and many others fell for the bait. Speaking for myself, it was exciting to see myself on this site (top right, above the fold) and of course, that encouraged those who were on the site to blog about it, including taking screenshots.
Guy’s Self-Contradictions lead drama
To further the flames, former Apple evangelist Guy contradicts himself with his recent post on how we can forget about the A-listers (yet launches a website promoting them) Drue has a fiery video, where she pins Guy against the wall for his inconsistencies off camera.
Controversy spurs interest
Guy chose sort of a controversial name, as “egos” excited some, and caused Doc Searls to be repulsed and blogged: “But if you insist on labeling me an ego, I’ll insist that you take me off.” He then wrote a follow up post with additional clarification.
Quite honestly, this is commodity software, there is nothing special about what Alltop, but it comes down to marketing. If Guy can market these products so they become industry starting points (Techmeme failed to expand to new verticals) then he has a chance to create a unique starting point –an index and roadmap of each industry.
[This gimmick site had some creative marketing flair and very low costs, yet the real challenges lay ahead: building an active reader base, and then monetizing]
A gimmick site with marketing flair
“C” for Product: This is not an innovative product, it’s simply a bunch of feeds on a webpage, users can create their own with netvibes or pageflakes.
“A” for Marketing: Guy used the influence mode, segmented by vertical, and leveraged his clout to get exposure, well done.
As such, Guy will tout this as a success (he’ll likely factor in the low costs of the project) and spur him along for more keynotes, presentations, and accolades as a marketing extraordinarine. Another term for this is a celebrity product, which Guy clearly knows how to leverage. Of course, the next steps will see how he monetizes, clearly an advertising or sponsorship opportunity is likely. (or alternatively, could read on the many forms of monetization)
What do you think:
Don’t just take my word for it, I asked my 3000+ Twitter network what they thought of Guy’s product and here’s what they said:
steven mandzik robotchampion @jowyang brilliant, include the most influential web personalities on ur site, marketing is done!
Rob La Gesse kr8tr @jowyang – all I read about it was on Fake Steve Jobs (but it’s been a busy day for me)
Kristasphere @jowyang: so what is your take on the Egos blog? I was shocked. didn’t see it coming as a formal site about 9 hours ago from web in reply to jowyang Icon_star_empty