JuicyCampus should have had a better business model

According to TechCrunch, JuicyCampus, a website that allows students to post messages about their peers anonymously is out of business.  Further reading will tell you that their VC money dried up and they had no steady stream of ad revenues.  When I was in college, I remember reading a weekly college magazine that had a page full of similar content.  The page was called Pandora’s box and filled of “greek” (sorority, fraternity) gossip.  I would read it every week.  It would say things like “Gamma Phi LP was seen walking from Delta Chi 3am Saturday morning”.  Usually, if you knew who’s who, then you can figure out who it was talking about.  To report gossip, you would call into a phone number and leave a message.  That’s it.  No need to talk to a live person.  Then you would wait to see if it got published.  Devious I know.  So, I don’t know how the college magazine made money from Pandora’s box, but I figure that the whole magazine benefited from more readers in general.

Now back to JuicyCampus.  If I was involved wih this startup, I would think about restricting access to readers to maybe the first 5 recent comments and not all.  Like a basic versus premium service content.  Better yet, reward those who contribute and punish those who don’t (meaning pay service).  Another thing that I would do is create partnerships with local college magazines/newspapers who may do similar things.  Give those print media online access to create more gossip and make it easier for people to contribute gossip a la web.  Just a few ideas, but I guess it’s too late now.  Salicious gossip will have to be published on Facebook and Myspace or other venues.

Sophia Perl

Sophia Perl is a product manager for a database tool at IBM. She has over 10 years of software development and management experience. Sophia holds a BS in Computer Science from University of Southern California and an MBA from University of California at Davis. She is the creator of iPhone apps PicPredict and Eventabulous.

3 thoughts on “JuicyCampus should have had a better business model

  1. Sophia – great points. It’s hard for most of us to really get our arms around a solely advertising revenue focused business model, and in this case it proved fatal. But the complication is that it’s not very easy to go from a free model to a pay model. The target audience took it for granted I’m sure that what they are reading comes free of charge. Just like your Greek Gossip news – most readers love what they read but wouldn’t consider paying for such a service. In order to effectively enter the pay space, JC had to offer something quite useful to justify the premium paid. How many tools do we use for free and most of are not premium users? McKinsey, HBS Review, vault.com, Fool.com, facebook.com, twitter.com — would we consider paying for any of these? Not many have…

    It’s tricky at best! Good post.

  2. Hmm, good point about going from free to pay. You’re right that some businesses just wouldn’t thrive with a pay service. I mean parts of the Wall Street Journal can be found free if say you found via Google so I’ve heard. So here’s a nasty twist to the JC idea that is similar to a different website where you pay to get an embarrassing picture off the website. Same thing here, how about if you can pay to have gossip not be published on JC.

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