October 16, 2005
@ 05:46 PM

Richard McManus has a blog post on his Read/Write Web blog entitled craigslists gets heavy with Oodle where he writes

Uber classifieds site craiglist has requested that Oodle , a classifieds 'meta' search engine, refrain from scraping its content. This has the potential to be the first high-profile case of a mash-up site being slapped for taking another site's content.

In a recent ZDNet post , I wrote that the business models for Web 2.0 mash-ups are beginning to ramp up. Some of the revenue possibilities for sites like Oodle are advertising, lead generation and/or affiliates, transactional, subscription.

Oodle wrote on their blog that they send craigslist "free traffic" and they "don't compete with them by taking listings." John Battelle said that craigslist's response to Oodle "feels counter to the vibe craigslist has always had".

This reminds me of the panel on business models for mash-ups at the recent Web 2.0 conference. One of the things that had me scratching my head about the panel is that it seemed to have skipped a step. Before you talk about making money from mash-ups, you have to talk about how people providing the data and services mash-ups are built on make money.

Providing data and services isn't free; servers cost money, system administrators and other operations folks cost money, and even the bandwidth costs money.  Simply claiming to be sending a service "free traffic" may not justify the cost to them of supporting your service and others like it. Then there's the fact that the site may have strategic reasons for not wanting their data syndicated in other sites.

A good example that comes to mind is eBay. Although eBay has an extensive API for developers who want to consume its data and services yet they aggressively defend themselves against screen scraping services to the extent that they created a legal precedent for services based on screenscraping their site to be considered tresspassers. On the one hand this seems schizophrenic but the fact is that it makes sense from a business perspective for eBay to do this.

Personally, I think more companies need to be like eBay and decide where it makes business sense to open up their website or service as a web platform. As part of my ThinkWeek paper on MSN as a Web Platform I've tried to create a taxonomy that can be used as a starting point for web companies to decide where they should consider being open. This taxonomy will  also be part of my talk at O'Reilly's Emerging Technology Conference if my proposal gets accepted.