September 17, 2003
Idiot Savant or Mad Genius?
Steward Butterfield has a great guest post on Many to Many about yesterday's Social Networking: Is there Really a Business Model? event. Especially interesting to me was this bit about Friendster CEO Johnathan Abrams:
After a few flashes of what appears to have been a trademark grimace, Abrams took the strongest position of the evening, declaring that Friendster is not a social networking business and observing that "When I started Friendster, I never imagined that it would part of a 'space'".
In fact, Abrams deried the idea that there was any sort of space here at all, perhaps astutely adding that this buzz seemed to him like 'push' or 'web servives' — not just in being areas which ended up overinvested, but in that they were not real 'areas' to begin with, just loosely associated businesses (or pseudo-businesses) grouped around a hot topic. Abrams came away with the nice line "When I hear entrepreneurs and VCs talking about a space, it means there is trouble ahead."
Damn, that's brilliant, this man just went up in front of an audience of venture capitalists and stabbed them where it hurts. That's like telling a runway model she's gained 5 pounds and her tits are sagging. I'm sure the VC ate it the fuck up too, no one talks to them like that, they are the ones with the big bags of money after all. Is this more idiocy from Abrams or is he really a brilliant psychological game player? I mean imagine the VC talking about the investment: "sure he wants 10 million, but imagine how much it will save us in our BDSM bills..."
Unfortunately for Abrams, Occam's Razor takes hold here, and there really is no evidence that Abrams is a genius psychological manipulator. I mean if he's that good, why the hell can he not get a date? Absent a harem he's been keeping secret to keep up this bumbling image, I'd have to say Abrams really is a fool. A damn lucky one who happened to stumble into a 'space' that he doesn't even realize exists.
Saddest bit is most of the time Abrams would be right, 'space' is an early warning sign of VC bullshit. But enhancing social networks with tech is a real business space, and yes there is actual money to be made there.Posted by Abe at September 17, 2003 02:29 PM