Why Netscape Will Succeed

Didn’t anticipate the power of network effects…

Jason Calacanis, the man in charge of Netscape’s new Digg-like redesign, really gets social web design. Listening to this Gillmor Gang podcast, I kept thinking…while everyone else is talking about ideas, money, or conspiracy theories Jason is coolly focused on what really matters: people.

Jason is the guy who offered the top users of Digg, Reddit, and other sites money if they switch over to the new Netscape.

He also knows what all the other guys in the podcast don’t, and Netscape will succeed as a result. They may not reach Digg-like proportions any time soon, but I think they’ll be successful.

Jason knows that it’s all about motivating people by providing value for them. That’s what all for-profit design is about: providing enough value so it motivates people to use your service, your product, your web app. Too often we focus on the end result instead of the path to getting there. Is Netscape desperate? Wrong question. The right question is: Is Netscape providing value?

And, anybody who mentions Flow and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in a podcast as cynical as the Gillmor Gang has got some serious clout. I’m surprised he wasn’t laughed off the air, even though he’s right to focus on such topics.

Jason is transparent about how he thinks about this. He suggests three reasons why people are becoming social bookmarking experts:

  1. Love Activity
    The top members of Digg, Reddit, Del.icio.us do it because they love the activity. If they didn’t love it, their results would be less valuable because they wouldn’t do it as much and they wouldn’t be so passionate about it. Tyson Hy, one of Digg members contacted in the offer, refuses the money and suggests that he’s just doing this because it’s what he enjoys: “I will commit my time to digg whenever possible because that’s how much I enjoy digg; it’s not about the money, it’s what you enjoy and this is what I like.”
  2. Appreciate Recognition
    These folks also appreciate recognition that comes along with their success. Who doesn’t want recognition? It makes people feel good about themselves as well as makes them more hungry to continue. In the new design Netscape gives lots of recognition, with several dozen profiles of navigators, anchors, and contributors showing up on the homepage.
  3. Enjoy Community
    When you hang around a place long enough, you start to get to know the people there. It happens online, too, even at these social bookmarking sites. Hy also comments on this: “The users on digg is very strong, we know how and what to expect as new stories are submitted the users have the power to promote a good story or to bury a bad story.” So there’s momentum here, even if they don’t meet face-to-face they feel like a community, and thus they are one.

When’s the last time you heard a businessperson talk about those things? Most don’t. I think Jason is right to talk in those terms, and Netscape will benefit as a result.

Published: August 11th, 2006