Define success…

I was doing some research related to our work in social media and came across the following post at a very interesting blog

Naturally I asked the blogger to add The Science Advisory Board to his list with the following comment:

20. Bill Kelly – January 15, 2009


Please consider adding The Science Advisory Board ( to your list of online communities. Launched in 1997, The Science Advisory Board now has a registered membership of more than 41,000 life scientists from over 60 countries.

We’re proud to have been advancing “Web 2.0? for more than a decade!

To which I received the following reply:

21. jean – January 21, 2009

41,000 members in 12 years….not really successful!

Hmmm… not very nice, so I felt compelled to reply:

23. Bill Kelly – January 27, 2009

Jean Wrote:

“41,000 members in 12 years….not really successful!”

By what measure do you define success? The business model of The Science Advisory Board is not to simply add warm bodies in the hope of attracting advertisers or selling subscriptions — we don’t accept advertising, don’t sell subscriptions and never rent out access to our membership list (how many journals or professional societies can make that claim?) We’ve built an expert-on-demand network that has profitably delivered insights to over 300 companies engaged in the development of new life science technologies. One recent entry into the field claims to have recruited 80,000 members in a year but they spent $20+ million doing it and according to their recent SEC filing are unsure of their ability to continue business operations.

Who’s the successful company?