Page 25

w w w. b r i g h t o n f u s e . c o m

pay this, it often means that compromises need

are finding their way to revenues. One of the

to be agreed which eats into profits. These are

highest growth sectors in the sample is that of web

classic problems for project-based organisations but

portals. is one of the most successful

digital technology exacerbates them because of the

Brighton web portals. Founder Dorian Harris

manipulability of tools and the increasing complexity

had been working with a wholesaler in the hotel

of digital media artefacts. While console video games

industry and saw the potential in online hotel room

developers bemoaned interventions by publishers

booking. Skoosh was set up as a price comparison

through the 1990s and 2000s, for example, now

and booking site with a business model of buying

there are multiple parties for the small firm to

directly from the wholesalers. Large online booking

engage in project business.

companies instead typically buy directly from the

For all these reasons, small CDIT firms prefer to move clients from their preferred fixed price projects onto the retainer model, but this requires a certain size of client firm and a sophisticated awareness of the qualities and characteristics of digital media. This type of larger sophisticated client may also contract CDIT service firms to use the project form for specific performance-related ‘missions’ that are experimenting and pushing emerging digital technologies and applications. One example is a digital media campaign with a simple defined objective like helping a retailer surpass an ambitious sales target. The client promises a large performance bonus to incentivise reaching the objective. Performance-incentivised payment is therefore another business model within the project form.

Online business models An important source of new business is the online domain. This is a highly contested space where business models are not yet established but firms

hotels. This meant Skoosh had flexibility in the prices to sell, and the company was rapidly turning over £1.5 million per month as an international business. However in the late 2000s, Skoosh found that many of its American hotel chains were insisting on a fixed price rate as a result of new contracts with the larger companies. This was later adopted by independent European hotels meaning Skoosh’s business model was under serious threat, losing 70% of its revenues almost overnight. Skoosh consulted antitrust lawyers and took the case to the Office of Fair Trading, and equivalent offices are now considering it in several other countries including the US, using Skoosh’s evidence. The case illustrates how online business models are fiercely contested and how smaller companies may need to contend with larger and more powerful concerns. While agencies deliberate over the anti-competition case, Dorian Harris has started a new venture, Skoosh Karma, with an innovative new business model. This is again a price comparsion and booking site but with important differences. Working on an


The Brighton Fuse  
The Brighton Fuse