Andrew Chen Archives

Subscribe · Featured · Recent · The Cold Start Problem 📘
Dear readers, I have moved to Substack and I will be writing here from now on:
In the meantime, I will leave up for posterity. Enjoy!

Widgets and their uneasy truce with blogging platforms

Great original material from TechCrunch on widget companies: MySpace: Why We Block Widgets.

It’s been very interesting to watch widget companies and their relationships with the underlying blogging platforms. This is especially in the case of MySpace, which has more or less been hostile to big groups of companies.

Pro: Widgets provide customization and functionality the platforms don’t have
Con: Widgets are pieces of real estate that the platforms don’t control

How blogging platforms will act
Ultimately, the blogging platform has all the control in the relationship, and they are incented to act in two ways:

1) First, let any widget company start and flourish
2) Once it gets popular enough, either control it and charge it a toll, or block it and replicate in-house

Sound familiar? Well, Microsoft essentially did this to wrest control of Windows and the major cash cow products from other companies over time.

The tactics of control
The easiest way, in my opinion, to wrest control of widgets from the widget providers is to do it under the guise of safety and security.

So I’d provide two steps:
1) Create a "Certified Widget Program" that requires you to register widgets over X traffic
2) Then, for any widget that isn’t controlled, provide a popup or a notice to the user that their widget might be unsafe

As a third step, once widgets are registered:
3) Make the widgets agree to a bunch of legalese, including a non-commercial clause. And if it’s commercial, here’s your chance to broker a deal with our biz dev team

Thus, under the safety and spyware umbrella, they could enforce a lot of control over their ecosystem. I wouldn’t be surprised if a variation of this launches. It’d certainly be more subtle than just randomly turning off peoples’ stuff.

PS. Get new updates/analysis on tech and startups

I write a high-quality, weekly newsletter covering what's happening in Silicon Valley, focused on startups, marketing, and mobile.

Views expressed in “content” (including posts, podcasts, videos) linked on this website or posted in social media and other platforms (collectively, “content distribution outlets”) are my own and are not the views of AH Capital Management, L.L.C. (“a16z”) or its respective affiliates. AH Capital Management is an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration as an investment adviser does not imply any special skill or training. The posts are not directed to any investors or potential investors, and do not constitute an offer to sell -- or a solicitation of an offer to buy -- any securities, and may not be used or relied upon in evaluating the merits of any investment.

The content should not be construed as or relied upon in any manner as investment, legal, tax, or other advice. You should consult your own advisers as to legal, business, tax, and other related matters concerning any investment. Any projections, estimates, forecasts, targets, prospects and/or opinions expressed in these materials are subject to change without notice and may differ or be contrary to opinions expressed by others. Any charts provided here are for informational purposes only, and should not be relied upon when making any investment decision. Certain information contained in here has been obtained from third-party sources. While taken from sources believed to be reliable, I have not independently verified such information and makes no representations about the enduring accuracy of the information or its appropriateness for a given situation. The content speaks only as of the date indicated.

Under no circumstances should any posts or other information provided on this website -- or on associated content distribution outlets -- be construed as an offer soliciting the purchase or sale of any security or interest in any pooled investment vehicle sponsored, discussed, or mentioned by a16z personnel. Nor should it be construed as an offer to provide investment advisory services; an offer to invest in an a16z-managed pooled investment vehicle will be made separately and only by means of the confidential offering documents of the specific pooled investment vehicles -- which should be read in their entirety, and only to those who, among other requirements, meet certain qualifications under federal securities laws. Such investors, defined as accredited investors and qualified purchasers, are generally deemed capable of evaluating the merits and risks of prospective investments and financial matters. There can be no assurances that a16z’s investment objectives will be achieved or investment strategies will be successful. Any investment in a vehicle managed by a16z involves a high degree of risk including the risk that the entire amount invested is lost. Any investments or portfolio companies mentioned, referred to, or described are not representative of all investments in vehicles managed by a16z and there can be no assurance that the investments will be profitable or that other investments made in the future will have similar characteristics or results. A list of investments made by funds managed by a16z is available at Excluded from this list are investments for which the issuer has not provided permission for a16z to disclose publicly as well as unannounced investments in publicly traded digital assets. Past results of Andreessen Horowitz’s investments, pooled investment vehicles, or investment strategies are not necessarily indicative of future results. Please see for additional important information.