How big was the social media market before Facebook?

This question was posed in a recent board meeting. I haven’t been able to shake it. 

The same question could be asked of most important markets:

Was CRM a feature before Salesforce.com?

How big was the virtualization market before VMWare?

How big was the mail order DVD subscription market before Netflix?

How big was the social media market before Facebook?

How big was the social games market before Zynga?

How big was the tablet market before the iPad?

The biggest markets are made where laughably small ones once stood. For users who didn’t know what they needed until they couldn’t live without it. By people who can’t imagine the world any other way. 

These new markets aren’t always the most obvious ones early on. They offer very limited customer data, non existent revenues and winner take all stakes. They sit at the cross section of converging cultural and technical trends. Most have been tried before but were too early or too poorly executed.

Big markets don’t fit nicely into existing boxes. They look too much like something that’s failed to actually work. They look too small to be interesting. Until they’re too big to be ignored.

(via brycedotvc)