Nairaland, the eponymous Nigerian website that has become a place for online discussion from Nigerians of all spheres of life, owes Simple Machine Forum. Hold on, this is not the typical dollar debt! It is what Tekedia has coined Technology Popularity Debt (TPD). We explain TPD as a scenario where one company takes or builds upon the technology of another company and over a period of time becomes more popular than the underlying technology creator.
Nairaland is built upon Simple Machine Forum. Today, it is more popular than SMF, according to internet rating companies like Alexa and comSore. It is ranked 1,623 in Alexa while the company upon which its business is built upon is ranked 2501. So, based on our lexicon, Nairaland owes SMF, in technology popularity debt, because it has become more popular than the technology that powers it.
Myspace also experienced this paradox as over years it grew and became more influential in valuation than the underlining free technology that powers it. That technology is ColdFusion which Tekedia is very sure that many people do not know.
There are many risks associated in this: one is the obvious one if the creator stops to innovate. In that case, the adopting company must take over. That was what Myspace did. They have to re-create the original ColdFusion to adapt but that was late.
ColdFusion was not very collaborative and that was the reason they could not get 3rd party developers to help them as Facebook did. Among many problems with Myscape, the key one was inability to tap the free skills of 3rd party developers to build the online community. When Facebook offered that option, people moved and began to develop tools that eventually helped in the company’s popularity
Of course, the challenge of startups most times is to get the idea out with the simplest technology out there. No one knows how it will turn out. If things work out, it could cripple expansion and scalability – more reason why people must think strategically at the beginning.
So, let the folks in Nairaland pay their TPD, at least by giving a free day of ad to SMF.