LinkedIn cofounder: “The Facebook Era is over”

Konstantin Guericke, cofounder of LinkedIn and now a partner at Earlybird Venture Capital and a mentor at Stanford University, thinks the “Facebook era” – and with it, the age of consumer internet is over. Expect consolidations, he says, naming the taxi app industry as an example (add takeaway delivery to that too).

“The consumer internet wave started somewhere in 2005 – with Facebook, MySpace and Flickr, but we’re past the peak. There’s been a pretty constant back and forth between B2B and B2C, and we’re seeing the pendulum swing back to B2B now. I can feel it everywhere, in my talks with founders, investors, venture capitalists and on LinkedIn status updates. It’s just happening.”

LinkedIn had to swim against the currents a bit, he acknowledges in the interview. Right after the dotcom bubble burst, there was very little appetite for B2C concepts. “We were ridiculed, even.”

But it’s no use to swing with the times, he says. Elance switched back and forth a few times in its business model – first offering consumers a chance to find freelancers, then trying to monetise on the enterprises side, and now back. He also points at Google, which never broke through trying to sell its search engine to enterprises. “You can’t pivot to another model if your product doesn’t support it.”

And like David Yammer, Martin Varsavsky and countless others, he stresses distribution for B2B startups (“extremely important”), as well as experience. He even thinks we might see a return of the older entrepreneurs – when you want to make a splash in B2B, you have to know the industry. That favors older founders.

And if you’re looking for a juicy target: “IBM, HP, EMC, SAP, Oracle and Microsoft are deeply entrenched in the enterprise, but they’re seldom loved by employees and management. They are walking around with a huge bullseye on their back.”

[read more:][photo: Earlybird Venture  / Inside the Facebook 'war room' Robert Scobl]

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Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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