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Books & Articles I wrote.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005




WHO: Jim Lussier, Norwest Venture Partners, Palo Alto

WHO HE IS: A former exec at Accenture and Beyond.com, Lussier handles software and services for Norwest, which manages $1.8 billion in venture funds and won big with investments in PeopleSoft (PSFT) and Tivoli Systems. Lussier led recent deals with travel-services company G2 Switchworks and P2P radio broadcaster Mercora.

WHAT HE WANTS: A kind of souped-up Craigslist for every neighborhood, everywhere. Just type in a zip code, and this website will present not just garage sale listings and classified ads, but headlines and photos from dozens of local news sites run by busybodies willing to provide free content and keep it constantly updated.

WHY IT'S SMART: The idea taps into the same social-networking allure that helped make Flickr a $35 million Yahoo (YHOO) acquisition -- that is, user-driven content, organized so that all visitors get a slick stage to showcase their stuff. In this case, the stuff isn't just photos but local knowledge: updates on a rash of burglaries, say, or a ranking of preschools. (The most popular contributors might receive a small percentage of ad revenue.) The site could also offer a marketplace for everything from baby-sitting to tree trimming. Sure, a number of regional websites already offer something similar, but this site would aggregate the content under one umbrella and provide a platform to scale it across the nation. If all goes as planned, Lussier says, paid ads could bring in as much as $100 million a year.

WHAT HE WANTS FROM YOU: A website template finished within six months on a $500,000 budget. (Lussier estimates that a team of two or three can do the job.) If it shows promise, Norwest will provide another $2.5 million to tackle the real challenge: developing a core group of users who can light the viral fire. "Building that community happens when people get value out of the service," Lussier says. "They need to feel compensated for their time by the information they get back out."

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