It's been nearly a year since I began the "50 Content Companies that Matter" series with a post on Google. With 25 companies on the list, I'm halfway to my goal of fifty. I thought it would be a good time to assess the list, reader feedback and what I've learned in the process.
In terms of feedback, it's been interesting. Most of the comments have been positive, though there have been a few minor quibbles with my choices. Others have proposed possible additions (often their own company), mostly smaller companies looking to break through. Most comments have come via email, with only a handful of people commenting directly on the blog. I hope this changes, as the comments themselves are quite interesting and I'd like to share them.
From the time I began the list, my goal was to recognize innovation in the content industry or among technologies which can be used in the content industry. Not surprisingly, most of the innovation tends to be coming from the smaller companies, rather than the established players. A few of you have pointed this out in your comments, asking why I've ignored some of the largest players in the content market. While I have posted on a number of traditional content providers (recent posts on Nature and Morningstar, as well as earlier profiles of Zagat and Consumer Reports), much of the innovation has been coming from content companies without the long legacy. That being said, there are a number of traditional publishers who are doing interesting things and you can expect to see some posts on them in the weeks to come.
On the other end of the spectrum, I've looked at a number of startups with compelling offerings, but who just don't seem qualified for the list. In my definition, a "company that matters" is one which we'd miss if they were gone. There are a number of companies vying for position in the social software market, but I'm not sure that any of them have established that type of position yet. That's why a few months ago I began a second list, of Emerging Content Technologies. This list is focused on technologies that should have an impact, whether or not the specific company profiled ends up as the market leader. A good example of that is the hosted wiki space, where Jotspot, SocialText, Wetpaint and others are vying for position. I can't tell you which of those companies will be the eventual winner, but I can tell you that departments and project teams are quickly adopting wikis to improve project communications. While the Emerging Content Technologies list focuses on the bleeding edge, in each post I include my thoughts on how traditional content providers might apply that technology in a mainstream business.
Another question I've been asked (really) is "why 50"? In hindsight, I think 50 was a pretty good number to use. Keeping the list to a "top 10" would have excluded many, many companies who are developing provocative content solutions. At the other end of the spectrum, if I had aimed for "100", I'd find myself scraping the barrel towards the end. Originally, I thought that I could complete the 50 in a year. One per week would have done the trick. Instead, it looks as though it will take 18-24 months. Thankfully, my commuter train from the burbs gives me some quiet time in the morning for writing.
The experience of developing this list has been fantastic. It forces me to continually assess what others in this industry are doing, something that's not so easy to do when we're all facing deadlines.
What do you think about the list so far? Please post your comments or email them to me, along with any suggestions for future additions to the list.