Thoughts on AlwaysOn’s Social Software/Weblog combo (or Will it make money?)

I’ve been playing with Tony’s new social software and welogging tool (called Zaibatsu) over at AlwaysOn for the last 24 hours. It’s very basic and horribly slow, that being said I think that social software and weblogging tools being built into existing communities is the going to be a huge trend.

I’ve always felt that the best magazines bring together, and capture, a community. Niche and trade magazines will benefit greatly from these features. Anyone who would pay $19.95 a year for a fly fishing magazine, or $199 a year for a legal software magazine would easily pay 2-3x that much for the ability to networking amongst the readers. I know if we had these features at Silicon Alley Reporter we would have had thousands of people paying $20 a month. This money would of course been almost pure margin.

Tony is charging about $60 a year for the service. I could see him hitting a couple of hundred subscribers in year one, and maybe a 1,000 by year two. $60,000 is not a lot of money. This is thing needs to be like $295 a year and add a bunch of value if he is going to make money off it. Until then he should just make it free and get a sponsor to pay $60,000 to underwrite it.

I don’t really see the value in this model for larger magazines. What do the readers of People or Vanity Fair really have in common, and why would they need to network? Perhaps they could us it to date each other (as Spring Street has shown), or for a mini-EBAY (which hasn’t worked so well)but that is about it.

Someone just posted this to the group blog:

THIS THING IS A D-O-G!!!
rjohnson [] | 02.17.04 @23:49
TOPIC: Always-on Always Vulnerable

Can it be any slower? I can hardly use this thing. No doubt WebObjects is a poor excuse for an application server. Ya shoulda used BEA. Too bad you’re in for a very rocky road with this one. Best of luck.

Oh yeah, in case you’re wondering why Tony didn’t register Zaibatsu.com it is taken by ThinkTank.com till 2011:

Registrant:
ThinkTank (ZAIBATSU7-DOM)
85 ENTERPRISE SUITE 100
ALISO VIEJO, CA 92656 US

Domain Name: ZAIBATSU.COM

Administrative Contact:
METCALFE, KAREN (35711201P) KAREN@THINKTANK.COM
85 ENTERPRISE SUITE 100
ALISO VIEJO, CA 92656 US
949-389-8102

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