BusinessWeek has a story "Sharing the Widget Wealth" that talks about the effect of widgets on social networks like Friendster, Facebook, and Bebo.
Widgets like Photobucket, MyBlogLog, Lijit, and others ride like a Remora on the wave of social networks. Photobucket attracted millions of users and was recently acquired by its "host" MySpace for about $250 million. MyBlogLog is a cool widget that rides on many different blog "hosts" and was recently acquired by Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) for about $10 million.
I use MyBlogLog on my blog for free. I have no idea how they make money...no advertising that I can see. MyBlogLog is that widget on the right sidebar that shows the pictures of registered users who have recently visited my blog. Pretty cool, but I wouldn't pay money for it.
Lijit Wijit for search. Starting today I am using Lijit for searching my blog. My friend Brad Feld invested in the company and suggested I try it. I have tested it out and it works great. The installation was simple, automatic, and flawless. I was up and running in a few minutes. Lijit uses Google Custom Search (NASDAQ: GOOG) to build a custom search "Wijit" just for your blog. They also provide some really cool statistics to show you what readers are searching for. Very interesting! Try Lijit and let me know what you think.
What is the business model? Free services layered on top of other free services doesn't seem to be a very compelling business model to me. But...some of these services are getting acquired for big bucks...so there you go. I guess I don't yet understand all the nuances of the Remora Business Model. But, if Brad Feld is investing in it...there is money to be made somewhere.