The Next Big Thing List?

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As an expansion stage venture capital financing firm, we are constantly searching for the next big thing. The WSJ has been kind enough to furnish The Next Big Thing List, which is actually pretty interesting to take a look at and dissect. As I reviewed the list, I could not help but think of how crappy the list is for several reasons:

1. Many of the companies on the list cannot possibly be the next big thing, mostly because their product markets are too small, their differentiation is too weak, their long term competitive advantage is too weak, or the competitive intensity of their markets is too strong to allow them to become “big things.” (btw, none of these are criteria…wtfwsj?)

2. Some of the companies on the list are already hot and probably should be on a “Currently Hot” list rather than The Next Big Thing List. For example, Zynga and the Huffington Post are both hot and strong at this point.

3. The criteria for determining the ranking of The Next Big Thing List is horrible. The Market Potential has got to be the number one factor in determining potential, doesn’t it? What happened to differentiation and market competitiveness? If this criteria was submitted for a grade to a college course at a community college, I suspect it would get a failing grade.

I am not sure that the list could be worse and wonder what the probability that the next big thing actually is on this list, particularly if the currently hot companies are screened out. Perhaps the WSJ will be kind enough to keep the list for 5 years and then review their list at that point?

What do you think about The Next Big Thing List?