Keeping Track: Are Online Calendars a Feature or a Business?

March 9, 2006

I read an interesting article in The Wall Street Journal titled, “Would-Be Web Moguls Learn to Battle Spam, Beat What Rivals Offer“. It was like the American Idol of Web 2.0 business plans with venture capitalists as judges. One of the criteria used by the venture capitalists was, “Is this thing a feature or is it a business?” This has always been a product assessment criterion, and is one that applies to online calendars.

Yesterday, Michael Arrington leaked screenshots of Google’s online calendar. Now, I could be wrong, but I see calendars as a feature, not a business. I think Google gets this. They built Gmail first and plan to integrate the calendar.

On the other hand, I’m not sure 30 Boxes gets it, nor do the venture capitalists who I gather, though this is unconfirmed, have put millions into that business. I hope they have some huge ideas planned, things I can’t quite see (although I haven’t thought about it too much) and prove me wrong.

Related: More Small Business Advice

I see a calendar as something that works within the context of, or in conjunction with, other parts of my life. For example, in Microsoft Outlook the key app for me is the email aspect. The calendar is a bonus. I’ve grown to like it a lot, but it’s not vital. I could use a pad and paper for my calendar and be just fine.

Long story short, calendars are a feature to me. Pooling calendar events (e.g. event data like Ticketmaster concerts), now that’s a business.

about the author

Co-Founder & CEO, FreshBooks Mike is the co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks, the world’s #1 cloud accounting software for self-employed professionals. Built in 2003 after he accidentally saved over an invoice, Mike spent 3.5 years growing FreshBooks from his parents’ basement. Since then, over 10 million people have used FreshBooks to save time billing, and collect billions of dollars. A lover of the outdoors, Mike has been bitten so many times it’s rumored he’s the first human to have developed immunity to mosquitoes.