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The Next Big Thing?

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Ashley Highfield | 16:04 UK time, Monday, 12 November 2007

dot_com_logos.pngBack in July, Bobbie Johnson wrote an article for The Guardian listing what he thought of as the top ten UK recent web start-ups. His list, based on his inside knowledge, was:

  • Dopplr Social networking for frequent travellers
  • Extate Intelligent search of property websites
  • Garlik Online identity management
  • MindCandy Alternate reality gaming
  • Moo Print on demand: cards, notes and stickers
  • OnOneMap Map-based property search
  • Touch Local Local directory services
  • Trusted Places User-created local information
  • Zopa Peer to peer lending
  • Zubka Recruitment 2.0

The article got me thinking about other criteria that could be used to identify the next big thing(s) on the web coming out of the UK.

One comment suggested looking at UK start-ups that have caught the eyes of VCs: "Of course, one way to pick likely winners could be to look at those that have managed to raise high six-figure to seven-figure funding. From memory, that list is likely to include: garlik, Horsesmouth, MindCandy, Reevoo, VideoJug, Zopa."

To take another approach, our internal research department works with the Nielsen NetRating statistics, and has pulled out a list of the fastest growing sites with reach still below most peoples' radar:


Source: Neilsen Online, UK NetView, home&work data, including applications, July-August 2007
Text version of the table to follow

What other ways can we track emerging web phenomena? How would you aggregate all this information, including what people are talking about on social networks and blogs, into a "best of the best" to help spot the next big British dot com?

Any ideas?

(IBM has a technology that can scan vast swathes of the net monitoring the "buzz", looking for things that people are talking about: we're working with them on it. Its called the 'semantic super computing environment' at their research labs.)

Ashley Highfield is Divisional Director, BBC Future Media and Technology Division. This is taken from a post on his internal blog.


  1. At 07:02 PM on 13 Nov 2007, John Drinkwater wrote:

    Tried Technorati?

    I think you should be asking a more important question, does the next big thing matter, really? Your site and many others still haven’t grasped the *current* things. Chasing the next dotCom bubble burst is probably not a valid use of time.

    Anyhow, technology, protocols and freedom are more likely to be the next big thing.
    OpenID, OpenSocial, microformats et al, they’re waiting to be adopted. Please get on it.

  2. At 03:47 PM on 14 Nov 2007, Ben Perreau wrote:

    I'm not going to try and predict, I'm not sure it would be healthy to obsess about - although it is fun. I usually go for one key indicator:

    Does it improve people's lives?

    More importantly, in terms of buzz, have you tried Techmeme.com?

    It literally aggregates what tech bloggers are talking about, upweights more reliable bloggers and displays it in a useful way.
    It's not British, but great, and a buzz-site all of its own.

    To pick up the Brit stuff, what about the BBC putting a regular meeting together to nurture/work with these startups - lots of other people do it, and encouraging more websites like Last.FM would do good things for our economy and the British media landscape, not to mention making us all proud.

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