Take the case of Quora. Quora is a question-answering website. You type a question and a domain expert might answer it for you.
Quora’s declared competitor is Wikipedia, a free site that not only doesn’t make revenue, but loses so much money they have to ask for donations just to be broke.
Recently, Quora raised $80 million in new funding at a $900 million valuation. Their stated reason for taking the money was to postpone having to think about revenue.
Quora walked in to an investor meeting, stated these facts as plainly as I have, and walked out with a check for eighty million dollars.
That’s the power of investor storytime.
Let me be clear: I don’t begrudge Quora this money. Anything that removes dollars from of the pockets of venture capitalists is something I favor.
But investor storytime is a cancer on our industry.
Because to make it work, to keep the edifice of promises from tumbling down, companies have to constantly find ways to make advertising more invasive and ubiquitous.
Investor storytime only works if you can argue that advertising in the future is going to be effective and lucrative in ways it just isn’t today. If the investors stop believing this, the money will dry up.
And that’s the motor destroying our online privacy. Investor storytime is why you’ll see facial detection at store shelves and checkout counters. Investor storytime is why garbage cans in London are talking to your cell phone, to find out who you are. (You’d think that a smartphone would have more self-respect than to talk to a random garbage can, but you’re wrong).
We’re addicted to ‘big data’ not because it’s effective now, but because we need it to tell better stories.
Fantastic and very important talk by Maciej Cegłowski.