The Kaboodle lesson – If you have a great platform and the wrong niche, shift your niche

When you’re an entrepreneur — especially an online one — you need the ability to re-create yourself on the fly. If you want a great real-time example, here’s one for you: Kaboodle. Today, the Wall Street Journal reported that the “Shoppers Site Kaboodle” is being purchased by Hearst. Om Malik reports the price is around $40 million.

When I saw this news, I thought to myself: Huh? When did Kaboodle become a “shopping site”? I remember using Kaboodle and liking it a lot — and the last thing I’d ever do is sign up for a shopping site. But, sure enough, when I click over to Kaboodle.com, it says, right there at the top of the page, “Have fun shopping with friends, share and discover new products.”

I used Kaboodle back when it started. I blogged about it in December, 2005 at which time I described it as “sorta like del.icio.us but with a much more attractive interface.” I even blogged a second time about Kaboodle when Mike Arrington mentioned them being at DEMO. Even then, the site was being referred to as a “clip service,” but I do note that Mike added to his mini-description of their DEMO appearance, this: “A lot of people are finding Kaboodle to be a very useful shopping tool.” In Kaboodle’s first appearance on TechCrunch, it was described as a bookmarking + wiki site.

I used it for nearly a year for organizing a sub-set of bookmarks, but, then moved onto the next shiny object. Wait, no, that’s not right — I moved back to a less shiny object, del.icio.us/rexblog. As much as I liked it, I thought Kaboodle was getting redundant with del.icio.us and, even moreso, StumbleUpon. What I missed by leaving the site was the savvy repositioning its founders and backers shifted to.

Fortunately, my Kaboodle page is still alive at the great URL, www.kaboodle.com/rex. If you look at my Kaboodle page, you will find nothing about shopping. Nothing.

However, they sold the site today for $40 million as a “social shopping” site. That, my friends, is what I call impressive footwork. And some smart shopping by Hearst, as well. Kudos to some smart, savvy folks.

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