Plaxo, Google's OpenSocial, and the effect of openness

Opening up has been good for Plaxo. Imagine that.


TechCrunch is reporting that Plaxo's Pulse has jumped "an order of magnitude" in adoption (from 200,000 connections to over one million), as Plaxo's VP of Marketing John McCrea notes on his blog.

Lesson learned? According to McCrea, "open" is good for business:

When we launched the beta of Pulse in August, we made a strategic bet -- that the market was ripe for an "open social network" (rather than yet another "walled garden").

The idea was that we could play a role in the emergence of a social web that was as open as the web itself. We embraced and implemented open standards, including OpenID and microformats. We let users bring in content from the sites they were already using, and we let them take their data out through a variety of mechanisms, including RSS and a lifestreaming widget....

Along the way, Joseph and I were often asked, "Open sounds great for users, but will the social networks really open up? Isn't it bad for business?"

Well, the early results are in, and I'd have to say that our experience so far would strongly suggest that "open" is good for business.

Indeed. That's " Abundance Theory " in action. There's much more money to be made by opening up a market and then delivering coherence and simplicity to it (among the rubble of too much choice) than by walling up a small little garden and planting one row of beans (or whatever).

This is likely a short-term spike for Plaxo's Pulse service, but the underlying idea is sound: opening up is a very good move for one's business, and that is true regardless of the business. (I might even try using Plaxo now, if it finally offers native Mac support.)

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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