Albert Lai...I hate that guy!
How does this guy do it? I think he developed his first computer program before he could ride a bike. In the late 1990’s at something like 14 years of age, he reached wunderkind status with the sale of mydesktop.com, making him both a millionaire and poster child for the potential and prosperity of the Internet. Today he’s found himself in the right place and the right time again, this time with Internet photo-sharing startup Bubbleshare.
Bubbleshare is the epitome of the so-called Web 2.0, the next generation of web sites (if you can still call them that) defined by dynamic, community and collaborative features such as user-generated content (e.g. blogs, personal web sites), file and photo sharing, and content customization (e.g. RSS). And like Web 1.0, companies in this space are all the rage, commanding headlines, site traffic and valuations in the hundreds of millions. Some of the most recognized examples include MySpace.com (which recently passed Google as the most visited property on the Web), del.icio.us and flickr (two social search and photo sharing sites recently acquired by Yahoo!).
It's not enough that Lai is in the Internet sweet spot again…he’s there despite my direct skepticism. Albert and I sat down about 2 or 3 years ago when he was first getting the company started and, having spent about a year working with Vancouver-based digital imaging company ACD Systems (makers of ACDSee), I offered him some wise words of advice: the way Windows, Google and Yahoo are moving, I really don’t see a lot of opportunity here for you…it would be like coming out with a new search engine.
Damn it was I wrong. Not only was there opportunity for photo-sharing, but with del.icio.us and the social search evolution, event search engines are being turned on their heads. I hate guys that can see this years out!
Seriously though, Albert deserves all the success that’s coming to him, and I suspect there’s going to be a ton. I’d look to see his name in the news soon as Yahoo! or Google fork out seven or eight figures for another one of his creations. And with another notch on his belt, there’s no doubt he’ll be on to the next thing in short order. Only this time, he’ll have at least one more believer behind him from day one.