If You Build it, Will They Buy It?

Written by Joseph LeBlanc

With recent eBay auctions of websites like Kiko and Huckabuck, there’s a lingering question as to how many new web services will sell. In the past, large companies like Microsoft, AOL, and Google have purchased smaller ones as a way of either removing potential competition or acquiring talented developers. In both cases, the actual company itself was purchased in its entirety; computers, servers, Aeron chairs, and the developers themselves.

This is no longer the case. Purchasers are getting the code, a domain name, and possibly some press coverage or traffic. These, however, are much smaller websites being sold for smaller amounts of cash by the developers themselves. Could we be entering into a time of “starving artist” programmer sales? It doesn’t seem like too bad of a business model to me. You work on a project you’re interested in, build a reasonable set of features, then auction off the site to someone with the business savvy to keep it going.

The online advertising market has finally matured to the point that non-programmers can easily incorporate pay-per-click programs.The monetization of these services is now much more viable. Not only can money be made on advertising, but complimentary products and services can be sold as well. If these sites go for several thousand dollars apiece, that’s a reasonable business investment for someone with the Internet marketing know-how to turn a buck.

Joseph LeBlanc is a freelance programmer specializing in the Joomla content management system. Additionally, he is a member of the 2006 DC PHP Conference board.The conference will be held October 19-20th at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, DC.