It’s All About Benjamin: The Truth About Sustainable Business Models and Web 2.0


I am really surprised at all the smart people who don’t understand value in the 2.0 world.

It’s all about Benjamin.

F*ck sustainable business models.

Audience is the new cash.

If you are thinking about the money you are thinking all wrong.

MySpace is valuable because it has an audience.

Friendster is a loser no matter what type of substainable business model you put on it.

Because it has no audience.

Audience is the new cash.


The features of your product don’t matter.

They can be copied.

Your entire product will be copied.

The only thing that can’t be copied are your fans.

What people think about you.


Audiences buy Intangibles.

Kids who bought iPods were not looking for an mp3 player.

That’s what they got.

But that’s not what they bought.

Audiences buy Intangibles.

The only way to increase value is to increase audience or intangibles.

If you are not doing that then you are doing something wrong.

Go it?

Audiences are the new cash.

Get Them.

F*ck sustainable business models.

Got it?


Explore posts in the same categories: Army Of One, blog networks, content, cursing, money, new media

19 Comments on “It’s All About Benjamin: The Truth About Sustainable Business Models and Web 2.0”

  1. RT Says:

    Good content= Audiences, Eyeballs= $$$$. Isn’t that why we got into this business?

  2. Brian Clark Says:

    The stuff you are saying has all been said before, in Web 1.0. Unlike most of your ideas, this is not original thinking. They called it “eyeballs” back then. I think you know what happened.

    The key to Web 2.0 is that 3 guys (or gals) in 3 different locations around the world with very little money can do something that VC-funded start-ups in the late 90s burned through $10 Million to do.

    They can fail.

    At the same time, some of those 3 or 4 people teams can succeed wildly. Look at 37 Signals. But 37 Signals had a solid subscription-based business model right from the beginning. They leveraged an audience, sure, but they had a real business plan.

    You and I are friends, but we’re going to go round and round over this if you keep following this thread. And that’s ok. Maybe we’ll both learn something.

  3. chartreuse Says:

    Hey Brian I spent almost an hour today defending you in a cult of 9rules fanatics! (I plan on writing about it tonight.) Be nice.

    Sustainable Business Models (IMHO) doesn’t matter if you have an audience.

    WTF is the SBM for MySpace?

    We are friends and so I’ll let you be wrong… 🙂

  4. Brian Says:

    All I’m saying is *the exact same arguments were made* in the 90s, and they were wrong. Tell me what’s different now except smaller companies with less funding? Are you saying it’s really different this time? They said that then, too.

    And thanks for the defense, I have no idea what that’s all about. Gotta love the Interwebs.

  5. Dave Says:

    I would argue a sustainable business model has to include how to keep the audience , no audience no cash right ?

  6. chartreuse Says:

    Brian:I defend anyone who posts here. Don’t feel special.

    Yes it is different.

    Dave:And yes. No audience. No cash.
    But you have to focus on the audience.

  7. AmericanSplendor Says:

    i just wanted to say how much i love your site.
    you are wrong on this chartreuse but i love this site!

  8. Liz Strauss Says:

    You’re right about audience being the new cash. The key is how to convert into a usable currency . . . one that advertisers understand. Right now they’re having trouble with the concept. Talking more and louder isn’t working.
    You’re not wrong; you’re just not done.

  9. Robert Bruce Says:

    “…without respect for the audience, there is no respect for the theatre; there is only self-absorption.”

    David Mamet – True And False, Heresy And Common Sense For The Actor

  10. Brian Says:

    After the dot bomb crash, the online direct marketers continued quietly on, making millions by building lists — subscribers, not page views. As Seth Godin said in Permission Marketing, the Internet is the greatest direct marketing environment ever created. I’ve experienced that first hand.

    The audience is not the “new” cash. There’s nothing “new” about the concept of cashing in on an audience, since way back to the traveling salesman pitching to a crowd in the town square.

    The audience has *always* been the cash. Not having a good plan for monetizing an audience is still a problem though, online or off.

    Why wait for advertisers to get a clue? Why not sell a product yourself? Selling advertising is harder than most would-be publishing kingpins realize, and it *is* selling. You’re selling page views, something that only fools buy. Luckily, there’s plenty of those still around, but Yahoo’s got a lock on them.

    You’re not going to avoid sales by being “ad supported” unless you’re depending on someone else to take a healthy percentage to do it for you. Or Google’s BlindSense program, whose text links I don’t even notice anymore.

    On second thought, ignore everything I’ve just said. Carry on with your advertising business models, and I’ll likewise continue quietly on as well. 🙂

  11. RT Says:

    Brian, the eyeballs=$$$ was a quote from an article in the December issue of Business 2.0 by Om Malik who talks about audiences then and now. Reading the article, it seems one of differences now is advertisers are slowly and trying to find a way to value those eyes in real terms. Its a great little article, check it out.

    BTW, Web 2.0 technology and audiences are different. Most people could give a damn whether a site uses RSS and/or ajax, since the mass majority still doesn’t use online as a form of media. Hence, Char ongoing discussion about youtube and similar in changing the way media is delivered to people.

  12. Brian Says:

    Yes, but youtube didn’t invent audiences. New delivery mechanisms have nothing to do with money. And please, go back and re-read the original post. Chartreuse is not saying advertisers are smarter this time, he’s saying who cares if they are or not, because you don’t need a sustainable business model.

    Audiences are audiences, regardless of technology. You either know how to make money off of them, or you don’t.

    The only difference now is a “build to flip” mentality, rather than “build to go public.” Different decade, different charade.

    BTW, Business 2.0 was wrong in the 90s too, go back and read the 1998-1999 archives. That’s how they make money — trend hyping. It’s a good racket.

  13. Apropos of nothing, do you have something besides bold available to you? 😉

  14. Phil Sim Says:

    I’ll agree with you when an audience can pay my rent and my staff bills..

  15. Brian Says:

    Times up, people. The answer to what’s different this time was already posted on the main stage. :0

  16. peter Says:

    Quick Q. What is the “audience to flour” conversion rate?

    Seriously, this thought process is the late 90’s all over again.

    I did appreciate an early comment about development scale though. Very good point.


  17. Jason Says:

    >> Audience is the new cash.

    How old are you 25?

    We did this back in 94/95… audience was called eyeballs back then. Folks who counted eyeballs crashed and burned. Folks who focused on earnings won.

    For real…

  18. […] Something that he said came to mind this morning while I was skimming a discussion over at Chartreuse again. […]

  19. vinylart Says:

    What Liz said way back, Seth now says with tribes. Conversion means taking over the world with your tribe leading the way. You lead them, they conquer. I get it, now to get it.


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