Fred Wilson has a great post up on his blog today about open protocols. By open protocols he is referring to things like TCP/IP (transmission control protocol and internet protocol), HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol), and SMTP (simple mail transfer protocol). Whether you realize it or not, you rely on these protocols every single day if you go on the internet, browse the web, and write emails.
If you’re interested in these sorts of nerdy things, I recommend you read his post. I’m not going to write about open protocols today – though I do find them fascinating. Instead, I would like to talk about the last paragraph of his post.
Here it is:
“I believe that business model innovation is more disruptive that technological innovation. Incumbents can adapt to and adopt new technological changes (web to mobile) way easier than they can adapt to and adopt new business models (selling software to free ad-supported software). So this new protocol-based business model feels like one of these “changes of venue” as my partner Brad likes to call them. And that smells like a big investable macro trend to me.”
This is interesting to me for 2 reasons.
First, business model innovation is incredibly powerful. Once a company has built itself up around an existing model, it can be painfully difficult to change. Imagine you have a 200 person sales team that would become unnecessary should you pivot your business model. Are you going to fire them and make the switch?
This is also one of the reasons why some tech companies can exist for so long before they make any money. Sometimes – but not always – it’s because the investors believe that if the company has users, attention or whatever it may be, that they will figure out a way to monetize them/it. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll be a business model that no one has ever thought of before.
Second, look how he is publicly sharing his investment thesis. Why would he do that? Shouldn’t he just go off and do it and not tell anyone? Clearly, he too believes that there’s greater value in being open and transparent.