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Monday, March 30, 2009

Riding The Semantic Web Funding Wave

The Semantic Web is Hot! I have been following Semantic Web/Semantic Net technology for some time. I am not alone. I recently covered this technology in How Will Web 3.0 Change Your Life? It clearly falls into the emerging technology category that I covered in Commercializing Emerging Technology .

Many investors, bloggers, news services and VC's are all in on this growing Wave. This is an emerging technology that could have significant impact on the next generation of search engine companies and how we will all find information on the web.

There is a top 10 hit list of companies that are leading the charge. Yes this is all occurring in a down economy. Many established companies and organizations are claiming participation or incorporation of this technology into their service or application. Yahoo, Microsoft, Rueters Twine and Mozilla are good examples of organizations that see this technology as a necessary part of their business. The new companies are getting funded and in some cases already being sold to larger companies.

Siri Raises $8.5 Million For Personal Artificial Intelligence.
Travel Search And Discovery Application Announces $4 Million In Funding.
Audio and Video Searcher Plugged Secures $6 Million Funding.
Microsoft Buys Linguistic Web Search Firm Powerset.
Reuters To Buy Search Company ClearForest.

From an entrepreneur's perspective this is a classic example of a Wave created by research institutions, technologists and investors. In my article on The 10 Best Ways To Get Funded I specifically talk about how important it is for entrepreneurs to be aware of growing investment Waves. The semantic web is a great example of how entrepreneurs have capitalized on a Wave to successfully get their companies funded and get them sold before they have demonstrated any significant uptake in revenue and traffic.

Many entrepreneurs in their enthusiasm about their idea and business overlook the importance of being associated with a Wave. No matter how good your idea is it has to be understood in a larger context and associated with a movement or trend that is much larger then the business itself. If you can not define your business in this way then the funding road is going to be difficult.

So what is the definition of a Wave?
  • It completely changes the way business is conducted.
  • Potentially creates entirely new markets.
  • Draws attention to small and previously unknown companies.
  • Is not dominated by large and well funded companies.
  • The big guys need it too if they are going to stay competitive.
  • The media love it and want to cover it.
  • It comes from out of the blue and surprises traditional media.
  • It has the potential for universal impact and big numbers.
  • Based on fundamental physical or organizational science.
  • Is supported by well respected people in academia and in business.
  • Starts small and grows over time.
  • Has the potential to create other Waves or is part of other Waves.
The Semantic Web certainly fits the bill for being a Wave. My advice to all entrepreneurs is to research this phenomena and either get on board, make sure you are riding your own Wave, catch a Wave or define your company in the context of a Wave. It may be the the best way to get your company funded in the current economic environment.

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