The New Old Web 2.0

Could taking a page from beauty community MakeupAlley help today's 2.0 Geeks figure out media?
Heather Green

Umair Haque thinks the Web 2.0 crowd is at an impasse. Geeks don't get media and media companies don't really grok the new tech yet. No understanding, no next round of radical innovation, he warns.

For the geeks at startups, such as as Ning and Flock, he says the problem boils down to too much tech fetisishm and too little understanding of human nature.

His advice? Take some lessons from MySpace, Korea's online gaming juggernaught Cyworld, and MakeupAlley.

Er...MakeupAlley? Yep. Umair recommends this community, where members swap beauty product tips, because it has "a very, very, very deep understanding of what consumers in its vertical value." (In fact, he recommends it as a takeover candidate.) The service serves 55 million page views a month.

I was curious, so I emailed the folks at this site last week. And the story kind of puts Web 2.0 in perspective for me. (What's old is new again.) And weirdly enough, it turns out that the site is run by Hara Glick, who used to be my neighbor in a tiny, four-story walk-up downtown.

Creating a coherent community is what MakeupAlley was always about. The largest beauty community on the Web, the site is a dotcom survivor and a proto-online community started in NYC by Hara Glick. Members trade tips on products, helping each other understand whether it makes sense to buy a $500 face cream.

Glick mapped out the notion of the community in 1999, way ahead of any of today's social networking crowd.Its members post about 1.3 million posts per month, or one every 1.2 seconds.

Glick launched MakeupAlley in 1999 because she wanted a site like this for herself. She sold the community to beauty site, a once hot beauty e-tailer that bought. But when the Internet bubble burst, Glick bought her company back. She wanted to see it continue. So what's her Glick's view on the whole Web 2.0 meme right now?

"We always believed that the Internet was about socialization. Now everyone else does to. It's really hot. But I think it's always been that way. The Internet is about people connecting and getting information."

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.