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MECCA Networks

Posted by Dave Richards on December 31, 2010 10:20 AM EST
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Big Opportunities... All "Local"... Now Possible

There's a broad class of networks arising that are experiencing fantastic growth, are as transformational as the Internet of the mid-90's, but which, in our opinion, haven't had an appropriately descriptive label attached to them.  In our own search to describe them, we've coined the term "MECCA Networks."

While MECCA, as you'll see below, is an acronym that describes a core set of features used in their creation, it also seems a nice play on words... that is, if you're lucky enough to build a successful MECCA Network, you end up in a really nice place.  What might be thought of as business Mecca.

MECCA Networks (MECCAs, for short) encompass what is arguably the fastest growth sector in the convergence of media, technology and communications. Well known examples include Groupon, Four Square, Yelp, and even Zillow to some extent.  Recent launches enabled by our own technologies include a social, e-commerce wine community launched by the Dallas Morning News (dallasnewswine.com) and a civic volunteering-donation site (in beta) called "Hampton Roads Cares" we're collaborating with WVEC-TV  (HamptonRoadsCares.com)

So what constitutes a MECCA?  It's a network or community whose business model greatly revolves around some combination or formulation of the following:

  1. Mobile
  2. e-Commerce
  3. Collaboration ("working" or "dealing" together)
  4. Content (primarily user-generated)
  5. An Affinity (passion) Area

What I personally find so compelling about MECCAs given my media-communications experiences is this: They have a decidedly local slant to them. While they can be rolled out when successful on a national basis (e.g. Groupon) their value proposition is nonetheless local.  Again, like Groupon; Norfolk, Virginia people rarely buy Boston groupons.  Unlike Facebook which is such a horizontally successful play -- though now trying to go vertical, deep, and local --  the essense of a MECCA is local and regional. Consider The Dallas Morning News' wine site.  The wines Dallas'ites are able to buy are ones NOT available locally (in Dallas) via any other channel.  The promotions members will be able to participate in?  All will be in conjunction with local businesses.  Same with Hampton Roads Cares. It's about donations and volunteering in local charities, causes and events.  Its sponsors are local businesses and it media partners (like WVEC-TV) local affiliates.

Our take on all of this?  It's an exciting time and the evolution of MECCAs, while already explosive, is only beginning.  It is the mid-90's all over again.  No single party will control all of the interesting passion-based communities that will arise in the next 5 - 10 years. Our plan is to be a part of this and assist/partner with innovators, especially forward thinking local media and communications companies like The Dallas Morning News.  If you're one of those, contact us.

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