⭐️ Need business ideas? Watch out for unbundlings

Society moves in waves. It always starts with lots of separate things. Then they get bundled. After a while, more and more people start to realize that the bundled solution is too bloated and not specific enough for their needs. This is when an unbundling happens.

Unbundlings always represent a multitude of business opportunities. Below I’ll list several examples of unbundlings that have happened in the past, some that are happening right now, and a few speculations on what might be unbundled next.

While going through the following examples, ask yourself: What aspect hasn’t been unbundled yet? What could be unbundled in a better way?

The Unix Unbundling

  • grep → Google,
  • rsync → Dropbox,
  • man → Stack Overflow,
  • cron → IFTTT
  • finger → Social Media

(Source: https://twitter.com/cdixon/status/505118160811728896)

The Craigslist Unbundling

(Source: https://thegongshow.tumblr.com/post/345941486/the-spawn-of-craigslist-like-most-vcs-that-focus)

(Source: https://latecheckout.substack.com/p/the-guide-to-unbundling-reddit)

The Spreadsheet Unbundling

(Source: https://foundationinc.co/lab/the-saas-opportunity-of-unbundling-excel/)

The Unbundling of Hippie Culture

  • psychedelics → weed startups
  • communes → coliving
  • hippie trail → digital nomads
  • hippie food → organic food, veganism
  • spirituality → mindfulness apps
  • free love → Tinder

(Also take note how Hippie culture bundled lots of different things that existed previously within certain subcultures.)

The Unbundling of Reddit

  • r/startups → IndieHackers
  • r/medicine → Doximity
  • r/Beauty -> Supergreat
  • r/funny → 9gag
  • r/sports → StadiumLive
  • r/Streamers → Pipeline.gg
  • r/insert city → Nextdoor
  • r/books → Goodreads
  • r/digitalnomad → Nomadlist
  • r/fitness → Fitocracy
  • r/design → Designer News
  • r/GrowthHacking → GrowthHackers.com

(Source: https://latecheckout.substack.com/p/the-guide-to-unbundling-reddit and https://blog.alexshye.com/2013/08/15/the-unbundling-of-craigslist-and-reddit/)

The Unbundling of Universities

  • Community → PhysicsForums, Discord Servers,
  • Content → Udemy, Masterclass
  • Credentials → Coursera, edX
  • Network → Twitter, Clubhouse, LinkedIn
  • Support → StackExchange
  • Access to Books → Scribd, Libgen
  • Learning Spaces → https://www.focusmate.com/
  • Accountability → ???

The Unbundling of Wordpress

  • Publishing → Medium, Ghost
  • Ecommerce Plugins → Shopify
  • Buddypress → Tribe.so
  • Membership Plugins → Mighty Networks, Ghost
  • Contact Form Plugins → Typeform
  • Comments → Disqus

The Unbundling of Webhosting

  • Database → Cloud Firestore, FaunaDB
  • Authentication → Auth0
  • Content Delivery → Cloudflare, Netlify
  • Version Control → Github, Gitlab, Bitbucket
  • Email → Mailchimp, ConvertKit

What’s Next?

Now that we have some understanding of how unbundlings look like in practice, it’s time to ask: what’s the next big thing that will get unbundled?

A few suggestions:

  • Twitter? (Especially its DM function, e.g., along the lines of what Earn.com tried. But also the “News-Feed” aspect, the “Life-Updates” aspect, the RSS-Feed aspect, etc.)
  • Ebay? Amazon? (See Etsy, Shopify)
  • Offices? (See Slack, Zoom, Focusmate, WIP.chat)

I’d love to hear on Twitter what unbundlings you’ve observed in the past and which you predict for the future!

Written on July 23, 2020

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