Long Tails

What is great about successes, are the long tails.  The word and concept “long tail” became popular in 2004 after Chris Anderson wrote an article in Wired about some of the newest large businesses such as Amazon and Apple, applying the theory to their businesses.  The term has been studied since 1946 being applied to finance and insurance businesses.

We have seen successful start-ups grow and lose some of the original people that have either vested their shares or are just ready for the next challenge.  They leave to go out and start other companies that have also become successful.  Etsy spun out handfuls of super smart people who have gone on to become part of the start-up ecosystem of NYC, building businesses and creating companies and in turn providing new jobs.  We are seeing in LA too with people who have left Snap and will see more from other successful companies in both cities.

That long tail will leave these cities even more vibrant in the start-up community over time.  After all, SF investors have been investing in the next generation of companies from the last success for decades.  Look at the amazing companies from the people who came out of Oracle.  Yet it is happening in other verticals that are giving economic upside to other cities.

Noma, in Copenhagen, is a perfect example.  Many of the people inside Noma have gone on to start their own restaurants.  We are seeing that in NYC and LA as well as other cities as food and restaurants become more than just places to eat but are trying more to become experiences and communities.

I am definitely obsessed and curious about the long-tail of everything.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I first heard the term ‘long tail’ in about 2000 in relation to search engine optimization. Already, it was impossible to compete with big players for simple terms like “pet toys,” but you could make up for it by optimizing for lots and lots (and lots!) of ‘long tail’ terms like “organic U.S. made pet toys for declawed cats.” Going after the long tail in search was exactly how I built my business back then :-)Very interesting to learn it has a much longer history.Seems like there’s starting to be a geographical long tail growing out of the Bay area. I’ve been hearing that real estate prices have dropped considerably because Internet 1.0ers and 2.0ers are leaving for places like Austin, Salt Lake, Denver, etc. to raise families. No doubt many of them are starting businesses in their new home cities.

    1. Gotham Gal

      the rise of the secondary cities….blog post coming to you soon.

      1. Niki McDowell

        Excited to read about the Rise of Secondary Cities. Go KC!

  2. lisa hickey

    So interesting! Like @MsPseudolus:disqus, I had heard of long tail with SEO, and then product sales on Amazon, and now I use the principles for a business that produces content. But “the long tail of everything”…love that! People…cities. I love being able to take a framework and apply it in unexpected places—to use it to solve totally different types of problems (like housing prices). Thanks for helping me think about all of this!