Bill Gross: Extreme Transparency (and Publicity)

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Bill Gross, the still reigning king of incubators is pioneering a new concept which maybe we should call Extreme Transparency. I do believe he has guts. Years ago he invented the pay-per-click model where advertising costs were transparent. Anyone could see what other people were bidding on keywords. Everyone criticized this commercialization of search at the time, but that transparency led to a super-efficient auction model and is now making billions of dollars per year for both Yahoo (who bought Overture.com) and Google.

Now he’s getting a bunch of publicity for being transparent about the daily revenue numbers of a recent search engine startup called Snap.com. People think he’s crazy because the daily revenue right now is between $50 and $100, but I think he is smart, a) because of all the free publicity this is generating and b) because he and I have both watched web companies hit the J-curve. It’s not hard to believe that Snap.com will start with a small trickle of customers but over time it will achieve some scale with advertisers and customers and its numbers will explode. (Remember the e-business commercial where the few transactions start turning into hundreds or thousands per second? It doesn’t happen that quickly, but it does happen. It certainly happened with Goto.com, Bill’s first search engine company.) This could be the most closely watched J-curve in history.

Kudos to Bill for his innovative ideas and courage.

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