[iDC] Will you delete your Feedburner account?

Geert Lovink geert at xs4all.nl
Sun Jun 10 04:19:03 EDT 2007

> I find it hard not to feel attacked when I read some of the comments 
> on this list. I am one of those 'greedy' people who only wants to sell 
> out. There is no need to apologize for this, I'm actually proud of 
> being able to start innovative companies, grow them from nothing to 
> something and then step aside when the moment (and the number) is 
> right.

Yes, Boris, from a user's perspective that is indeed 'greedy' and 
short-term thinking, to use a nicer word. Users also invest. They 
invest time in systems and they also want a return: the right to be 
left alone and just use the service without being bothered by 
unneccesary changes of software, interfaces, ownership structures and 
sudden restrictions because the new owner has to make money. The 
problem of your model is that you move the 'sustainability' question to 
the next owner of your venture. It is the 'free' that is the 
problematic part here. You lure people in for free, they jump on the 
service, you sell out and privatize the collective efforts, then user 
satisfaction drops after the acquisitation and the herds move on. That 
is the Web 2.0 model right now and I personally do not think that's 
going to last for a long time. People do not see themselves as part of 
some stupid crowd or mass. They are, in the end, not bees, no matter 
how hard the corporate consultancy gurus, from Kelly to Surowiecki, are 
trying to portray users like that.

The discussion is not about a presumed evil character of some 
individual but about future economic models of online services.

I dispute that "selling out has always been and will always be the 
default." If that's so then the enterpreneurial culture itself has to 
change. You write: "It is just one of three possible exits for a 
start-up: bankruptcy, IPO or acquisition." That's of course nonsense. 
How did all the big IT players like Yahoo, Microsoft and Google come 
into being? Exactly, because they did not sell out. "Craigslist is 
simply the exception that confirms the rule*." Then make Craigslist the 
rule. No that would be a massive change, no? Enterpreneurs always claim 
that are working on 'change'. Then why not change this rule?

Best, Geert

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