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Chapter 10. Commerce Communities …How to... > The TiVo Success Story - Pg. 123

Commerce Communities ...How to Keep Money from Screwing Everything Up 123 Fortunately, we have the web. One look through a website like DSL Reports ( tells the sad tale. The site is full of horror stories (and even the occasional endorsement) of DSL com- panies. There's information on every provider in every city, and enough tales of woe to make anyone consider sticking with his trusty 56K. The lesson here is that if you discourage your customers from forming communities, it won't stop them. They'll just find someplace else to meet. And, chances are, you won't like what they have to say when they do. The TiVo Success Story Not all companies make this mistake. In mid-1999 a new company called TiVo appeared. It makes a product called TiVo, which is a Personal Video Recorder, or PVR. A PVR is like a VCR that records on a hard drive instead of videotape. But even better, TiVo will record your favorite programs au- tomatically, even preemptively. For anyone who's owned one (myself included), it can be quite a watershed experience. Suddenly, TV is interesting again. David Bott followed the advent of PVRs with interest. Bott is the administrator of AVS Forum (, a discussion site full of discussions about home theater equipment. He started a section for discussions about PVRs. Soon, the TiVo discussions were growing too fast to control, so he gave TiVo its own forum. It grew like a weed. About that time, Richard Bullwinkle, the webmaster for, began taking part in the AVS Fo- rums. It seemed natural, since people were discussing TiVo there. As the discussions grew, Bull- winkle and his superiors at TiVo reached a crossroads. TiVo could have called in the lawyers. Threatening letters could have been sent. Fans could have been spurned. Instead, Bullwinkle and Bott worked together. They spun the TiVo forum out into its own site at