Curation Published Wed Sep 23 18:30:00 SAST 2015
The marginal value of new art[^1] decreases as content accumulates over time because new works compete[^2] with all prior art. Conversely, the value of curation increases exponentially. This predicts the wealth of several discovery startups:
- Products: Product Hunt, Gdgt (now Engadget)
- Startups: AngelList, MatterMark
- Places: Yelp, TripAdvisor, NomadList
- Answers: StackOverflow
- Music: Rdio, Spotify, Soundcloud and Shazam
- Video: YouTube, Netflix, Vimeo
- Cat Pictures: Reddit, Imgur & 9Gag
- People: Tinder, LinkedIn
- Activities: Meetup.com, etc.
- News: Twitter, Facebook Signal (verdict still out)
These companies are built on network effects, but each has a mechanism for filtering signal from noise, such as liking, sharing, voting or swiping. The ubiquity of a curation mechanism seems undervalued and suggests a higher abstraction for thinking about search as on-demand topic curation.
Both the curation pivot and the interface seem important. Any service that can effectively distinguish between good or bad options in a vertical representing a human need should do well.
Which new startups will generate wealth by curating new or existing kinds of data? I suspect you could pick winners by investing in new sources of data like genomics and its supporting databases without applying any complex algorithms.
- Identify a human need with a growing set of options
- Collect and classify new or existing data
- Pivot that data on an under-serviced metric that people care about, like "agony" for air travel
- Jobs by culture, perks or co-worker personalities, instead of by role or brand.
- Real estate by cost of surrounding areas instead of by rent, or a combination of the two.
- Mind-altering drugs by subjective effects - marijuana being the obvious choice.
Viewed through this lens, a successful team is a curated group of the right people. Whoever can predict fruitful cooperation, will prosper.
[^1]: Art meant to please, not transform, like music, videos, games and other forms of entertainment. I think the same is true of transformative art, but I'm not as sure.
[^2]: Should I watch Chris Rock, Interstellar or The Beatles? Like restaurants, all entertainment competes with all other entertainment.