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Recipe for a billion-dollar website

Posted on 15 Jul 2008 at 16:49

Harder than ever?

It might seem that it's harder now to create a billion-dollar website than it was during the dotcom-boom years, but is that really the case? After all, sites such as Facebook, launched as recently as 2004, have emerged to prove that it's still possible to grow an online business from nothing to a $10-billion brand in just a few years. Tom Ilube, currently CEO of internet-privacy specialists Garlik but formerly chief information officer at, believes that it's no harder to succeed today than it was five years ago, but he admits it might take slightly longer. "A tech entrepreneur should think in terms of five years rather than 18 months, but that's no bad thing," he said. "There are so many new technologies emerging that the opportunity to build huge companies still exists."

Nielsen admits that venture capital may be harder to come by as a result of the ongoing credit crunch but he insists that this is actually a healthy situation, as "the most stupid ideas that are all chasing the same advertising budgets will be harder to fund. People who have a good idea that can actually make money can still get funding". It's not even that hard to outdo a long-established rival, according to Nielsen, as there are many ready-made solutions available for constructing a website: "Anything from cheap hosting providers to pre-programmed shopping-cart software that just need to be tweaked for your product instead of being written from scratch." And by following established usability guidelines, new businesses can avoid the mistakes made by others. "Learning from the past; what a concept," he joked. "That'll allow new sites to move straight to a design that works for users."

Ilube agrees, insisting that it's surprising how quickly innovation dries up in so-called industry leaders when pressures of quarterly reporting and protecting a core franchise come into play. "If you look at the recent big innovators such as Facebook, Skype and YouTube, they have happened outside of the established first generation web companies." So perhaps the only question that remains to be answered is: what are you waiting for?

Author: Davey Winder

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User comments

Payments may get better soon too

Just starting a project that enables safe payments in shops and on websites. Once we have this in place, accepting payment no longer needs to be such a fight with PCI compliance or the need for a virus free computer (yes, I meant that).

By nuclear_glow on 17 Jan 2012

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