The Web 2.0 conference is happening this week in San Francisco. And these days, lots of startups characterize themselves as Web 2.0 companies because their products offer collaborative tools, sharing of virtually anything, and their products use AJAX.
Most of the Web 2.0 companies offer online services that are very, very similar to each other. They all enable communities to share or not share their content or applications, and to do it in many different ways, from using 3D Avatars, to sending out their content to mobile phones - it all melds into a blur.
It is difficult mustering much interest in Web 2.0 companies unless they have a community of users. And I don't mean "registered users." I've registered for at least 100 sites and never went back. I mean active users.
If a Web 2.0 company can show it has a large enough and growing community of active users, then I'll take notice. Just because a Web 2.0 company offers a Swiss-army knife array of collaborative functions, and/or it uses AJAX, means nothing.
But if there are groups of users doing interesting things with the platform, then that gets interesting. It is usability of Web 2.0 services that will distinguish companies in this space, and the size of the community being served.
Is YouTube a Web 2.0 company? Yes. Is that why it achieved a value of $1.6bn? No. It is the huge community that YouTube managed to coral into one place - that's the $1.6bn of value created. And Google will multiply the value of that media asset several fold because it has the most efficient Web 2.0 monetization engine in the world.