Yes, it's 1999 all over again. Web start-ups are cropping up with names like Bebo, Squidoo and Moblabber. Start-ups like YouTube, less than 1 year old and unprofitable, are being sold for $1.65 billion. And the business plan known as Free has returned.
But the difference these days is established companies like News Corp., Google and Yahoo are taking the gamble on startups that don't make any money--not investors--although they will lose if the gambles turn out to be ill-advised. The most surprising participant in "Web Bubble 2.0," is Time Warner's AOL. Still, shareholders have applauded the company's decision to phase out of the ISP market to offer content for free.
For a small number of Web newbies, the model of trying to be all things to all people is great, but if you know how to find your IP address, subscribe to RSS feeds, or know what "FWIW" stands for, AOL, Yahoo et. al., are too mass-market for your tastes.
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