Interview with ThisNext CEO Gordon Gould

November 16, 2007

Digital Marketing ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor

I spoke at length with Gordon Gould this week, CEO of ThisNext, to talk about where his company is headed, why the space is heating up and the principles behind the company.

Gordon is an impressive individual — not to be confused with the inventor of the laser — having started and sold Blogsmith, the engine powering Weblogs, Inc. and Upoc, the longest-standing mobile social network.  And he was President and COO of the Silicon Valley Reporter with Jason Calacanis during the first dot com boom.

Interview Summary

  • Setting the stage: ThisNext & existing social players
  • The Product Graph
  • Enabling what market?
  • The audience
  • Social shopping vs. CSEs + social functions
  • Marketing the vision

The Meat
Recently the press has been eating up announcements by Facebook and Google that seek to enable new types of transactional data sharing amongst friends.  The most relevant announcement is Facebook Beacon, which integrates retail sites directly into the social graph already present on Facebook.  How does this affect ThisNext and how is it different?
The core philosophy of people recommending products to each other is right on, but I think the Facebook move is more PR.  There are some truisms on the Internet — any company that’s gotten any scale and traction in a space has only been able to do one thing well.  The best example of this is Google and search monetization — their other products haven’t really taken off in the same way.

One of the basic operating principles in this industry is hyper-competition– which makes it very difficult for the same organisation to start spinning out related businesses in things not core to what they’re known to be good at.  In Facebook’s case, the opportunity to own the social graph is a tremendous opportunity.  But it’s a land grab, and the company has to put all resources against all that.  Everybody else is trying to figure out how to do this and take him down so he doesn’t own social graph.  As big as they are, for them to move from being a horizontal platform where people make their home on the Web to getting into more vertical apps is suicide.