The Success of See's Candies and Lessons from Web 2.0 for Today's Social Apps


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 25, 2023

3 min read


The Success of See's Candies and Lessons from Web 2.0 for Today's Social Apps


Warren Buffett's investment in See's Candies has been highly profitable, and there are several reasons why he loves the business. Similarly, the social network revolution of Web 2.0 from 15 years ago holds valuable insights for today's social apps. By examining the common points between these two topics, we can gain a deeper understanding of what makes a business successful and how social apps can evolve to meet the needs of creators and users.

1. Financial Returns and Modest Capital Needs:

See's Candies has generated an impressive 8,000% return for Warren Buffett since 1972. Despite only requiring a $40 million investment from Berkshire Hathaway, the company has generated over $2 billion in profits. This success can be attributed to the immediate revenue generated from selling chocolates for cash and the short production and distribution cycle that minimizes inventory costs. Similarly, social apps can benefit from focusing on profitability and minimizing capital needs to ensure long-term success.

2. Strong Brand and Loyal Customer Base:

See's Candies has a famous brand and a loyal customer base, allowing them to charge premium prices and maintain a competitive advantage over rivals. Buffett recognized the value of this advantage, stating that See's Candies means getting kissed, symbolizing the emotional connection customers have with the brand. Social apps can learn from this by building strong brand identities and fostering loyalty among their user base. By creating meaningful connections and experiences, social apps can differentiate themselves and retain users in a crowded market.

3. Quality Personnel and Leadership:

Buffett emphasized the importance of quality personnel in See's Candies' success. He appointed Chuck Huggins to lead the company shortly after its acquisition, recognizing his exceptional performance and unique abilities. This highlights the significance of having skilled and capable leaders who can drive innovation and growth. Social apps should prioritize hiring and developing talented individuals who can contribute to the app's success and provide valuable insights for future growth.

Lessons from Web 2.0 for Today's Social Apps:

The social network revolution of Web 2.0 provides valuable lessons for the development and evolution of today's social apps. One key lesson is that maintaining numerous connections can be overwhelming for users. Social apps should focus on simplifying the user experience by creating smaller chat groups and utilizing algorithm-driven feeds to showcase the most relevant content. Additionally, the next generation of social apps should prioritize building real connections among users and enabling creators to have ownership over their audiences. This can be achieved through monetization models such as subscriptions, NFTs, and direct interactions between creators and their audience.


The success of See's Candies and the lessons from Web 2.0 highlight the importance of profitability, brand loyalty, quality personnel, and user experience in the success of businesses and social apps. By incorporating these insights and taking actionable steps, social apps can adapt to the changing landscape and meet the evolving needs of creators and users. Three actionable advice for social apps are:

  • 1. Prioritize profitability and minimize capital needs to ensure long-term success.
  • 2. Build a strong brand identity and foster loyalty among users to differentiate from competitors.
  • 3. Hire and develop quality personnel who can drive innovation and growth.

By learning from successful businesses like See's Candies and understanding the lessons from past social network revolutions, social apps can navigate the ever-changing landscape and thrive in the digital age.

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