Odeo is Dead, Long Live Obvious

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Everyone knew this was coming. Well not this but some kind of ending, Odeo just hasn’t had the success they were hoping for, especially after a 5 million dollar round of VC and angel money last year but there you go, change of direction.

Evan Williams and Biz Stone (plus other Odeo people) are starting Obvious Corp. and their first action is to buy Odeo back from the investors, not only in essence giving back the money but even a bit of profit.

This time around instead of a “bubble 2.0 play” with VCs they are going the 37 Signals way of building cool apps they’ll use. Just have a look at the model:

  • “Build things cheaply and rapidly by keeping teams small and self-organized.”
  • “Leverage technology, know-how, and infrastructure across products (but brand them separately, so they’re focused and easy to understand).”
  • “Use the aggregate attention and user base of the network to gain traction for new services faster than they could gain awareness independently.”

    Put Jason Fried’s name over those bullets and you wouldn’t see the difference.

    I’m somewhat ironic there but I certainly love this part:

    Lastly, for me, I just wanted to create a company that would be as much fun and as fulfilling as possible. Fun in work to me means a lot of freedom, and ton of creativity, working with people I respect and like, and pursuing ideas that are just crazy enough to work. I don’t want to have to worry about getting buy-in from executives or a board, raising money, worrying about investor’s perceptions, or cashing out.

    (Boris talked about something along similar lines yesterday.)

    It’s a bit sad and also easy to be sarcastic about the failure of Ev at Odeo but the way he’s handled the whole thing and been transparent about it is great to see and certainly speaks well of his character so good on him for that attitude and for learning from his mistakes.

    The whole thing also shows that the needs of investors aren’t always compatible with the needs of the company. Odeo and Twitter weren’t enough to grow the market and profits to investor satisfaction but might be good pieces in building a company its people have fun creating and running. Much more interesting “business plan” in my mind. (Although of course having Ev’s money behind you helps being idealistic, I’m sure)

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