Facebook and LinkedIn are two highly successful Internet companies that have built their business behind membership walls that limit innovation and scope of services. Both of these companies are immensely powerful and give high user satisfaction. This business model is risky for at least three reasons.
- It limits a company’s ability to offer broader services.
- This business model is easy to duplicate. I have set up membership sites with WordPress.
- There is a history of walled websites fading as new websites have come on the market:
- The Well (1985)
- America Online (1991)
- Theglobe.com (1994)
- Geocities (1994)
- Tripod (1995)
- Classmates (1995)
- SixDegrees (1997)
- Friendster (2002)
- LinkedIn (2003)
- Facebook (2004)
Today the two largest walled websites have these book values (source finance.yahoo.com):
Facebook value 120.57B
LinkedIn value 25.61B
By contrast, Google has taken a consumer and business services approach more along the lines which Microsoft has taken. Here is the value of those two companies (source finance.yahoo.com):
Google does have a membership site: Google+. Google also offers about fifty other personal and business applications
Cross these analogies over to your career. If you limit your knowledge to the information you need to do your job, your value is not keeping pace with the changing workplace. You can continue to learn and expand your skills in several ways.
- Audio courses you can play during your commute
- College courses for skills or for advanced degrees
- Professional clubs and meetings
- Books on skills development
- Picking mentors who can help you develop new skills
- Building a network of people who have skills outside of your experience
I remember when a friend name Jim Niehaus showed me his Apple computer. This Apple was the first personal computer I had ever seen.
At the time, Jim was a geologist and regional manager for Cities Services Petroleum. A few years later, he was a general manager for Occidental Petroleum. He asked a company programmer to develop an application to do certain functions. The developer said that such an application was not possible. Jim informed that programmer that Jim knew the application was possible, because he was using that application on his home computer. From that general manager role, Jim’s career progressed. He retired as chairman of Occidental Petroleum and Gas.
Image: Rosaura Ochoa/Flickr