A few weeks ago I went to TC Disrupt and spent some time walking through “startup alley” where new companies set up booths to demo their products. In a span of two days I came across 3 social calendaring apps, 3 mobile marketplace apps, and 2 mobile app directories. Its wild that even within a small microcosm significant overlap exists and I imagine theres far more companies are in these spaces then were at TC Disrupt.
When this occurs people react one of two ways. They comfort themselves by saying this is evidence that a market exists or they are overcome with anxiety that someone else is trying to solve the same problem. I don’t find fault with either of these reactions, but think its interesting to take a step back look at the bigger picture. For the record, I’m building something in a crowded space (social content) and recognize the hypicrosy I’m about to exhibit, yet think its important to be introspective and speak honestly.
When you consider all of the time, money, and energy spent on startups it makes me wonder whether this world really needs 15 different teams working on a social calendaring application. Is yours really going to change the world that much more? I am a huge advocate of competition and recognize that it pushes innovation and helps democratize markets by pushing the best products to the top. However, I also wonder if arms races between many players is an efficient system. Would the world be better off pooling resources and allowing capital allocation to be spread solving more problems? Its hard to say because many great companies we’ve come to know and love emerged from crowded spaces and have made this world a better place.
Its a tough question to answer but something I think about often.