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The Blackmail/Extortion Business Model

The Blackmail/Extortion Business Model


A business that has the potential to negatively influence perceptions of
another company but negotiates the information disseminated for some type of fee.

Examples (Allegedly, with sources):

Businesses want positive reviews in one of the web's definitive guides to local
businesses. Yelp allegedly takes advantage of this (source )
by changing what reviews do or don't show based on whether you pay or not.

Advertisers use ComScore as the definitive source for traffic statistics.
ComScore is accused of under-counting companies that do not pay their fee ($10,000!)
to get their tracking code. (source)

Better Business Bureau
Businesses get rated and consumers make complaints. The BBB makes money
from businesses subscribed to their service. It has been accused that the grading
system favors paying businesses (source).

Why it Matters:

These organizations have a reputation with the audience purchasing a service or product.
They take payment from businesses providing that service or product in order to
present information about those businesses. Exerting their power over businesses
listed in their system can increase their profits. This business model sustains
itself as long as lawsuits and legislation allow. It is one of the strongest
lock-ins available. Consumers keep using it because companies keep promoting it
because those that don't, often fail.

The Hobbyist Business Model

The Hobbyist Business Model


A business that grows out of a hobby or passion that did not start out with a commercial intent.


“The comic began in September 2005 when Munroe decided to scan doodles from his school notebooks and put them on his webpage. Eventually the comic
was changed into a stand-alone website, where Munroe started selling T-shirts based on the comic. He currently "works on the comic full time," making
xkcd a self-sufficient webcomic.” ( xkcd is one of the most popular
web comics and is listed as one of the self-sufficient web comics.

HuskyStarcraft / HDStarcraft
These two starcraft casters (someone who records gameplay and commentates what's going on) have built a legion of fans across the globe.
HuskyStarcraft has 378,000 subscribers and HDStarcraft has 322,000. Their views are also some of the highest of any channel in the gaming category.
They are both behind IGN and EA but ahead of GameSpot and Ubisoft. They have hosted tournaments, get invited to events and presumably make a pretty
penny off YouTube partner program with their 100 million plus views each.

A hobbyist's MUD started in college that had 1 million users before becoming a business. Today, RuneScape one of the more popular MMORPGs with ~$60 million
in revenue during March 2008 - March 2009 and ~$28 million profit. (

A twitter account that has spawned a book deal and a tv show. An unemployed guy decided his dad's hilarious comments needed to be shared with the
world. The world loved it.

Why It Matters:

People are being given the tools to self-publish, self-broadcast, self-develop all sorts of content. Comics, games, music, videos, books, news and any
other medium where an individual is given the tools to create *anything* can make a huge impact. There are thousands of people out there sharing,
creating art, shipping their passion across all sorts of mediums. The web has given these artists the means to share their work with the world easily.
The web has also allowed people to learn almost anything they wish to learn about. They can download any piece of software for free (legally through
open source and illegally through pirating) giving themselves the tools to required to create their art.

Today, any passionate individual has the tools to be as powerful as any corporation with regards to connecting with an audience. Their passionate
projects and art compete for free because they don't see it as a job. They are simply creating or doing what they love. Most will never be recognized,
but a few will be superstars. The superstars are presented with all sorts of monetization options simply because of their success and popularity. Any
business that looks at a passionate hobby turned business and thinks their business model made the business successful is fooling themselves. This type
of success cannot be replicated in a business plan. It is a lot of talent and passion combined with good fortune.

Seven Sites in Seven Days - My Personal Challenge

I feel like I need to challenge myself. Since I moved last month, I have been doing a lot of little things here and there (see: consulting, freelancing). My own projects have stagnated and I haven't been nearly as productive as I would like.

I have a lot of ideas for different websites I own but have had a very hard time committing to one. I enjoy projects, building a first implementation and testing a concept.

In an effort to try and get creative and find a project or two to really work on, I decided why not build a lot of websites/projects and see what happens?

Seven Sites in Seven Days Challenge:
1. I will try and build 7 websites in 7 days.
2. There is no limitation/minimum requirement on what each will be.
3. Some will probably suck (likely most/all of them).
4. I may get help from freelancers (paid).
5. I may use existing resources - old code, domains, servers, etc.

I Paid for Music

I realized it's been probably a decade since I last spent money on music (buying one of the <10 CDs I've bought in my life). Today, I found myself troubled, my Spotify travel use ran out. After 14 days I could no longer use it without paying. I lasted 24 hours before I paid for an account (49SEK/month ~ $7/month).

Spotify has truly changed the way I behave and consume music. After over two years on a free account, I don't have a music collection, I have spent countless hours crafting my playlists, sharing with friends and finding them on the web. Access to all that was taken from me and I didn't know what to do.

If any music startup could really kill it, I am betting on Spotify, I am in love and as of today, a paying customer. The iPod changed the way we listen to music on the go, Spotify changed the way I consume music at home, parties and with friends. Any song on demand, what could be better?

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