Cork’d: A Social Network for Wine Lovers



F
ounded in 2006 by Dan Benjamin and Dan Cederholm, Cork’d is a playground for wine lovers. It is a free service for wine aficionados, allowing members to review, share and discover wine. Dan Cederholm and Dan Benjamin launched Cork’d publicly in May 2005. It was later acquired by internet wine star, Gary Vaynerchuk.

“The goal of Cork’d is to bring wine to the everyday person – to remove the snobbery often associated with the world of wine. The result is a fun, playful, easy-to-use site that’s enjoyable to explore and offers a service that focuses on community for keeping track of and discovering new bottles ” (simplebits.com)

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Cork’d as a social network

Cork’d is a social networking site which has attracted a niche market of wine enthusiasts, connecting wineries and people who have an interest in wine. Reflecting its CEO’s vision, Cork’d has been established and served as a social network, where its users and wineries can interact with each other. The site comprises specific features of a typical two-sided network, such as same-side and cross-side network effects. The large numbers of users of the platform on each side attracts more users in the other side, while the number of users on the same side also escalates. The key factor for such an attraction is values that users bring to each other’s and simultaneously, is values which are expected by people who intend to participate in the network. These values would be discussed in the following, from each direction:

Values that wineries bring to users

Firstly, from the perspective of users, the site provides them easier access to wine purchases or product offered by different wineries. It allows wineries to post information and provide links to their website, where wine can be purchased presumably. Owing to this feature, users may feel it convenient and enjoyable to purchase from guaranteed wineries about which they have just read reviews from other users. Moreover, they could effortlessly find information about wine-store opening hours, updated promotion and events from wineries. They could also search for information and reviews of nearby wineries around the corners of their districts. Besides reading reviews, users could also maintain a “wine-cellar”, create their preferred shopping list and more importantly, actively interact with their favorite wineries. All of these features create a so-called community feeling on local wineries, which is an essential sensation that users seek for in a typical social network.

Values that users bring to wineries

More than just being a place to post business information, Cork’d serves as a customer base for wineries, where they can find potential buyers for their products. Furthermore, It enables wineries to interact directly with their loyal customers and new buyers. The site provides data on customer preferences and wine tastes through reviews and rating system. These reviews, either positive or negative, may help wineries to improve their products and attract more consumers. On the other hand, a network effect to the outsides also occurs since the more users know about wineries, the more their reputations increase.

Values that users bring to users

The most obvious advantage seen by users when joining the site is the reviews and rating system about various types of wines. These reviews help them to have a clear impression on the wines that they intend to purchase or they have interest on, avoiding wasting money on poor quality wines or wines that do not suit their personal tastes. A more fabulous feature that Cork’d provides their users is the focused education system, where users may find it easily and exciting to learn about grapes, manufacturers and winemaking process. Most of these feature and utilities are generated by users themselves. Moreover, joining such a social network like Cork’d, users may find people sharing their mutual interest, making friend and expand their network based on similar interests on wines. However, like other social networks, the site itself could not avoid negative network effect since there are people, who are price sensitive and new to wine tasting, write their negative reviews, which may cause misleading negative impression.

Generally, Cork’d could be a potential platform-mediated network, as it owns an outstanding concept and gathers required attributes of a two-sided network. However, the site has been shuttled down in 2011 since Lindsay Ronga, the site’s CEO, decided to move to other opportunities and Vaynerchuk is involved in too many other projects.

Interested ? You may read more about the case in this article:

http://hbr.org/search/911064-PDF-ENG

Reference

http://simplebits.com/work/corkd/

 

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