Global internet portal? Check.

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CrunchWord Puzzle!

Tuesday/Wednesday next week sees the launch of the grand-sounding World Biz Online, and my Spidey Sense is already tingling.

Big London launch in a Mayfair hotel? Check. “Global internet portal”? Check. “The first functioning Web 3.0 site on the internet”? Check. Poised to “change the way that business is currently done on the internet”? Check.

So I just got off the phone to the PR guy who wouldn’t tell me anything about who is behind the site, like the CEO’s name for instance. However, I gather it’s about 20 web apps wrapped into one big site (video, blogging, directories, email, VOIP, chat, text, photos etc) and mashes up consumer and business target markets. Its been “some years in the making”, built across the UK, South Africa and Germany, and is a “home page where you can do everything in one site.” Double check!

I’m in two minds about whether to go to the launch because it already sounds like they have ignored the now distributed nature of the Net and the emergence of APIs and platform applications. Should I go?

UPDATE: I did in fact go along to the presentation.

The site is positioning itself against large business-focused directories like Alibaba, Wand and However, they rather laboured the single point that they had come up with the “alpha and omega” of taxonomies to cover all possible categories. They have also wrapped up a tonne of tools (VOIP, IM, SMS, video, you name it) and are giving it all away free (not that original) as an incentive to register, create a profile and start hocking your business. CEO Stuart Sterzel, who is ex South African Special Forces but also former head of a number of mining and oil/gas businesses, very politely told me that they were extremely confident their plan would succeeed. Indeed, he said they have been researching it for 8 years and had put in well over 6-figures of funding into it via private investors.

My Opinion? I think the site does indeed look like it is 8 years old. The interface is very old fashioned. Plus they will need a lot (and I mean a lot) of marketing to give it any traction. I admire their enthusiasm, but I’m afraid I don’t hold out much hope for it’s success, to be blunt.

  • Nigel Eccles

    You should definitely go. The world could do with a “global internet portal”.

    Anyway it sounds so dotcom that I bet there is free champagne and go-go dancers! (Plus you can laugh at the poor delusioned investors who have sunk money into it)

    Man, you have a great job.

  • Mark

    Yes you have to go… at least so Techcrunch UK can be posted about your thoughts…

    Sounds interesting… like a AOL but realising that the internet is bigger than America!

  • tom s

    web 3.0? do we still have to say “Yay!” a lot….

    …but what to wear?

    good name for a destination site too.

  • Fabio De Bernardi

    Are the guys behind it? :)

  • JofArnold

    Mike, you should definitely go… but in a self-knowing statement you should tweet the whole thing via an API-based twitter client ;-) And maybe post a few interviews via Seesmic…

  • Steve Purkiss

    I can tell they’re gonna be huge by the way they can’t even get a simple mailto: link correct on their holding page…

  • Kathryn Corrick

    Oh please do go!

    Their holding page is so wonderfully early 2000s (the mailto: doesn’t even work). Can’t remember when I last heard the word ‘biz’ used anywhere…. or the term “international internet community”.

    Drink their chamagne, eat their canapes and try to keep as dead pan as you can, then tell us all about it.

  • http://n/a Keld

    Are we in 1999? “Portal?” “Free Advertisments placed in …”. WTF!? Anything with “biz” or “online” in the URL = FAIL.

  • Hugh McCallion

    This sounds like web 3.11 to me.
    Dare i ask: is Sam Sethi involved?

  • George Black

    Yes, do go! You wouldn’t want to miss seeing the world being connected.

  • Rodolfo

    Names! Names! Please name the PR agency

  • Ted

    “mashes up consumer and business target markets”

    well, there’s ambitious, and then there’s *ambitious*…

  • Ted

    anything to add to this, anyone?

  • liam

    Really ugly and off-putting Holding page? Check.

  • Mike Butcher

    @ Rodolfo – There is not a professional PR agency attached to this venture as far as I know. (Check!)

    @Ted – Nice work – glad to know this might be connected some how with “Rwanda Business Online”. (Check!)

  • Doug Monro

    Wow, sounds like they have succeeded where Google could not … although they haven’t succeeded in getting any local domain names.

    a couple of further clues, and a name – Simon Tattershall?

  • Gareth

    You should defo go Mike, just for shits and giggles… ;-)

  • Jemima Kiss

    Tempting, but the holding pager does not bode well. Sounds like bad PR to me.

  • Geoffrey McCaleb

    You need to go, for the sheer comedy of it all.

  • Kyle MacRae

    “web 3.11” – funny! I’d have Seesmic’d me lol-ing but the dog ate my webcam

  • Matt

    Mike you should go – and let it teach us all a lesson either way. If they do what they state, then great – you’ll get a scoop. If not, it will be a catalyst for debating the merits of over-hyped, non-sensical, pre-bubble PR methodologies.

  • Stuart Sterzel

    Dear Mike

    Thanks for taking the time to call my company last week, and for your initial comments re Worldbizonline on your blog.

    As we briefly discussed on the telephone, it’ll be great if you can attend one of the presentations next week, and then perhaps give some further feedback to your readers.

    The presentations next week are only for a small group of invited people, in order to provide a briefing on the site / company prior to it being opened to the public on Monday 12 May. It is for this reason that I asked our Media Liaison colleague not to discuss the matter with anyone prior to the presentations, as I felt that it would not be correct to provide details to some people and not others, prior to the actual presentations themselves.

    As our site is not able to be viewed at this time, many of the comments from the readers of your blog are totally understandable, and I would have possibly made similar comments myself had I been in their position iro not having enough information, and not being able to access the site.

    I hope, therefore, to be able to present our site and company comprehensively to you next week, in order that you may – if you think it worthwhile to do so – provide further information to your readers.

    We too do not like hype and / or hyperbole, (as in press releases, including ours) but sometimes they are necessary if one is to secure attendance at one’s presentation as opposed to any one of the other hundreds of presentations occurring simultaneously. I would like to say though, that we have not made ostentatious claims about our company or site (like “Web 3.0” – as what does this actually mean, and what substantive difference would it make to product success or failure anyway).

    We believe that the only relevant factors in creating a business (of any kind) that can be successful, are thorough research, hard work, attention to detail, identifying core potential markets, and structuring the business model so as to be economically viable, while also providing a compelling reason for potential members to use it (i.e. a good product that is economically viable).

    All this being said, you were contacted and invited because you have a reputation for being knowledgeable & experienced, and for telling it like it is – just as you have done in your blog above. My colleagues and I prefer and respect this type of approach, and so we hope to see you there.

    Kind regards.

    Stuart Sterzel
    CEO, Limited

  • Jacques le Roux

    So did you go?

  • washer

    So did you go to the launch? We eagerly await the news.

  • Mike Butcher

    I’ll pop along today to their presentation (around lunchtime) and update everybody after.

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