Analytical Framework for Consumer Web Based Business Models

Christian Duncan

Student thesis: Master thesis


Through the history of the web there have been many great dot-com success stories of companies growing from nothing to multimillion, even multibillion, dollar companies in just few years. These companies have many times created their own markets as first or second movers and later on become respected in the “proven and traditional” business world as valuable businesses creating desirable products or services. But sometimes these dot-com successes become dot-com disasters and lose close to everything, for what seems overnight. Some recent examples are,,, and most recently The thesis main interest is to investigate this phenomenon through the following hypothesis: · ‘That only the right combination and alignment of both web and business model components will generate or sustain success’. Literature on the concept of ‘business models’ and ‘the web as a phenomenon’ is found to have little emphasis on the combined implications of the two as a unified tool of analysis. Consequently, this thesis takes a closer look at both ‘business model theory’ and the academic portrayals of the ‘web as a phenomenon’. The result and purpose is to propose an ‘Analytical Framework’ that, when applied to empirical data, can be utilized to understand one (or both) of the two: 1. Why a particular web business failed? and / or 2. How a particular web business can/could prevent failure? Those, point one and two, are the practical implications of the proposed ‘Analytical Framework’. Further, in relation to the ‘concept of business models’, the ‘Analytical Framework’ contributes to existing theory by offering an extended business model framework, dedicated to the purpose of analyzing consumer web based companies. To argue for the proposed framework’s theoretical validity, the thesis draw to the basic and most fundamental theoretical understanding of the business model as a framework of interlinked components as first proposed by R. Normann in 1977. Based on literature review, this thesis argues that Normann’s concept, in its most basic form, is shared by most scholars who propose a business model framework. Those investigated by the thesis include: M. Morris et al. (2005); S. M. Shafer et al. (2005); J. Hedman et al. (2002); M. W. Johnson et al. (2008); A. Ostenwalder et al. (2005). In order to develop the ‘Analytical Framework’ the thesis aims to investigate and address the following essential sub research questions: · What are the main factors that make or break a successful business model? · What are the main considerations when designing a business model? · What components and phenomenon’s make up a successful consumer web service? This hypothesis and proposed ‘Analytical Framework’ is investigated and tested by analyzing a case study of MySpace – a former well known startup who made ‘online social networking’ into a multimillion dollar industry. At its prime MySpace was the most popular and fastest growing web company ever to have existed due to innovative product offerings and excellent viral growth effect among societies lead users such as pop- and rock stars. As a result, MySpace was quickly acquired by media tycoon Robert Murdoch and his News Corporation, as they wanted to establish a solid and loud presence on the web. The acquisition, with its $580 million for a two year old company, was one of the more spectacular ever seen. Furthermore, besides the sites nature of featuring pop icons, rock stars and music fans alike and rapidly becoming center of attention in the music business, the charismatic founders and Murdoch himself were highly active in the business press, boldly promoting MySpace as soon becoming a billion dollar business. Consequently, the story of MySpace has been well covered by most prominent news media bureaus leading to many insights to how MySpace initially were so successful and how they eventually failed to sustain and build upon its success. Consequently, the thesis hypothesis and proposed ‘Analytical Framework’ is tested and applied through the following main research question: · Why did MySpace fail, as a business, while being the most popular online web service? In sum, the thesis main wondering, hypothesis, research questions and purpose is sought to be investigated and addressed through; (1) the main factors that make or break a successful business model, and what to consider when designing a business model; (2) the main components that constitute a successful modern web service; (3) a proposed merger of step 1 and 2 to create an analytical business model framework designed to analyze consumer based web services/businesses; (4) to conduct a case study on MySpace to serve as the thesis empirical data; (5) to address the main research question and test the thesis hypothesis through applying the proposed ‘Analytical Framework’ in an analysis and discussion of how, why, when and where MySpace both succeeded and failed as a business.

EducationsMSocSc in Organisational Innovation and Entrepreneurship , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages80