May 12 2006

Web 2.0: The First 25,000 Users Are Irrelevant

For the past few months, whenever I talk to someone about a Web 2.0 application and hear that they already have “10,000 users”, I’ve been telling that them the first 25,000 users are irrelevant.

Josh Kopelman has a perfect post up today called 53,651.  This is the number of RSS subscribers to Michael Arrington’s great TechCruch blog, and is exactly at the core of the “first 25,000 user” issue.  Since there are 53,651 RSS subscribers of TechCrunch (at least as of 5/12/06) , if something gets reviewed there, it’s likely to get 5,000 to 10,000 users in the next 24 hours “just to try it out.”  As so many traffic graphs of these “TechCrunched” products show, there is a huge spike in use for a day or two, and then it goes right back down to where things were before they were TechCrunched.  For example:

Traffic

Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs (and many VCs) confused one time “tryout users” with real sustainable users.  As an analytics freak (I’ve invested in a number of web / Internet analytics related companies over the past 10 years, including NetGenesis, Service Metrics, and now FeedBurner), you only have to ask two more questions to know whether (a) the company really understands its traffic / user base and (b) whether they’ve got the “first 25,000 user problem.”

Thanks Josh for the outstanding post and putting the gap between the Web 2.0 geeks and Mainstreet USA front and center.  Remember – the first 25,000 users are the same dudes (such as me) that play with everything.  Oh – and yes – I’ve fallen victim to this also.

It’s time to go La Vache hunting.