|In January, trendsspotting posted about a survey they did with various VC's regarding the next big trends for 2008. They then compiled them into a tag cloud to flesh out the major issues. Their conclusions for 2008's upcoming trends were:
"Applications, green, mobile, networks, open, social"
Not suprising given the latest popularity of social networks, greentech, mobile applications, and the community aspect of any open-source technology. Take for example Facebook's new markup language to play with its API - FBML. Lately, Silicon Valley (Dave Hornik's podcast on VentureBlog for one) and Facebook have been talking about an "XML-like" or open source community platform that will be able to integrate all communities into, what is now being coined, your "Social-graph" - a play on words with demographics. So we will only have to make one profile, instead of many, that will follow us around the Net. So, although I'm not using Facebook, you will still be able to add my Linkedin profile, as well as see other applications that I may use, and vice versa.
This may ensure that Facebook and its own proprietary FBML, will continue to build and then try and dominate an overall platform community. Facebook so far has come out on top, and it is amazing to me that so many Turks have latched onto Facebook, without really knowing why they are doing it, let alone understanding how much information they are revealing about themselves. As I mentioned in my post regarding the acquisition of Cember.net, 1.6 million Turks (10% of all Turkish internet users) are members or Facebook, and that's only the Turks that have joined the "Turkey" community, which means that number is much greater.
Google is also trying to write its own ticket with its "Open Social" (wiki). This is an open source community that is geared to build its own applications - in direct competition with Facebook, and quite frankly should give FB a run for its money. You can also check out the Open Social Wiki.
But where does Turkey fit in?
Seth Godin once wrote that we must go beyond looking at the 4P's of a company and look for something that is remarkable. Unfortunately "remarkable" doesn't start with a "P", so he called it "Purple Cow". So, as an entrepreneur, is your idea and company remarkable? Are you a Purple Cow, rather than a boring brown cow? Turkish tecnology entrepreneurs and idea owners need to go beyond building "off-the-shelf" software packages, sitting comfortably in their Technopark labs, and truly look to what the innovators and early adopters want and would like to see. Entrepreneurs must realize that the consumer is now bored with what has been invented, and needs something remarkable to pull them out of their seat and buy.
More and more we need to be looking for not only social community websites, but websites that can take existing communities and work with them, around them and be able to integrate all communities into its makeup. Turkish technology entrepreneurs need to be able to follow these trends and realize that for a venture model to work in seeking high returns, they need high return ideas that are able to capture not just Turkey's, but the world's, attention. Mae Ozkan, in setting up her fund at GoldenHorn Ventures, has tried to instill this ideology in building Turkey's ecosystem, and will most likely show up in her future investments.
However, so far in the past, we have seen the realization that it is still just much easier to find a "Western" idea, translate it, and roll it out in Turkey. I realize I may be trivializing this issue a little (how many video services can we have in competing with YouTube?), but for the most part it has worked on basic consumer products, television (sitcoms and reality), and now the Web.
Let's look at some examples of Turkish venture-funded "copy-cat" or "clones".
funded Gittigidiyor.com, a Turkish online auction site, which was later partnered (or purchased a minority share?) with Ebay. According to Alexa, ranked 14th most popular in Turkey
Kariyer.net, the leading Turkish job-finder website, is also funded by iLab. According to Alexa, ranked 47th most popular in Turkey
Mulakat.net - a recruitment and career site.
Bedava.com - a classified advertising site.
Araba.com - an online car broker - new and used cars for sale.
Emlak.net - a real estate service provider
and look, some social communities...
BizimAlem.com - a "European Turkish People Network"
KolayArkadas.com - translated "easy friend" - a Dating Network
Nokta Internet Technologies, a firm that I have not covered before but deserves its own post, is a technology holding company that acts like a venture fund with its own portfolio of funded web properties. It kind of reminds me of CMGI back before the bubble burst. A few of their investments are:
Blogcu.com - The Turkish version of "Blogger" that is trying to be a portal. According to Alexa, ranked 30th most popular in Turkey.
Izlesene.com - another video sharing site. According to Alexa, ranked 53rd most popular in Turkey.
I realize that I'm choosing only a few, and no disrespect is meant toward those investment firms. I will try and list more at a later date. In addition, by no means is this only happening in Turkey. These investments were mostly made after the bubble had burst. Perhaps, the Web 1.0 concepts are still saturating the globe due to the the geography of web penetration (web users/population).
This brings me back to the title of this post, are Turkish tech investments aiming local or looking global? The strategy of investing in a Turkish property in hopes of being acquired by the global leader is admirable (The strategy worked with iLab and Gittigidiyor). However, this strategy can only go so far. Take Emlak.net for example. Are they only satisfied with a Turkish speaking audience? Or could they go the extra mile and develop something similar to Zillow (www.zillow.com) - a community-wiki-based real estate sales platform that could very well span the globe? This will be the test. Are they remarkable enough? Are they a "purple cow"? Turkish entrepreneurs, please take heed.
Labels: AccessTurkey, Entrepreneurship, iLab Ventures, LeVenture, Nokta Technologies, Technology, Venture Capital