Some of the most interesting new web projects seem to be coming out of a new breed of incubator. Obvious has released the widely heralded Twitter. Y Combinator has had several hits, including currently buzzed about companies like Scribd, Justin.TV and ImInLikeWithYou. Yahoo’s Brickhouse launched Pipes to great reviews. Another new incubator, Ooga Labs is hoping that GoodTree will be a hit (disclaimer: I’m an adviser). Seems like too many successful product launches to be a coincidence.
I’m calling the companies behind these products incubators because they work on multiple projects at once in a more experimental fashion than regular companies. However it might be a misnomer. The infamous incubators of the late 90s were VC driven and more focused around optimizing the business side of running lots of small businesses in one batch. The new incubators are more like product labs where smart product engineers and designers get to iterate quickly through new ideas without marketing people, executives or VCs breathing down their necks (actually, kind of sounds like Automattic fits this model as well). Whatever they’ll be called, they seem to be growing in popularity and they releasing very interesting products.