Before the dotcom boom, one never heard the question “what’s your business model?” Asking it would have marked you as dim. A few standard models had been around for a hundred years or so: extractive businesses and agriculture, manufacturing operations, service businesses, media companies, and financial intermediaries, each accommodating a few variations like franchising, piecework, door-to-door sales, temporary labor.
But the Net came along and spawned a Cambrian explosion — a whole new set of potentially viable business models. With the ’90s came e-commerce, community creation, social networking, sponsored search, open source software, crowdsourced information, online gaming with private virtual currencies. “What’s your business model?” became a clever question, as everyone wondered what would be next. The dotbust cleared away some of the chaff, but new ideas continue to arrive as capabilities expand — at the moment location-based services such as Foursquare and Scvngr are the new species on the block. Read the rest of this entry »