Paul Buchheit, whom I’ve never read prior, has a very nice article about what makes a successful company: You can take the smartest, most experienced, most connected, most brilliant people in the world and have them build the most stunningly designed and technically advanced product in the world, but if people don’t want it, then you will fail.This is roughly what happened with the Segway, for example. […]Even if you aren’t the smartest person around, and your product is kind of ugly and broken, you can still be very successful, if you just build the right product. YouTube and MySpace are both fine examples of this.

This is a classic rich vs reach scenario. In a free(ish) market, the customer will decide what a good product, and by implication a good company, is. YouTube and MySpace are classic “reach” technologies. When their success first arrived, they weren’t at all fancy. They did what they claimed to do, reliably, even if they lacked refinement. They appeal to a broad audience.

Another good example is PlentyOfFish.com. So here’s a question. What makes lightening strike for “reach” products?

If you were an investor, where would you put your speculative dollars: a company creating a “rich” product or a “reach” one?