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Sunday, November 27, 2011

A fly on the wall in a hypothetical board room

I can imagine a conversation going on in some board room last year.

"We make way more money when we can target the ads. More data is more money."

"Yeah, but the stuff which really matters we don't actually have."

"What do you mean? We have all of their e-mails and all of their chat contacts! We even have their pictures so we can figure out their demographics just by looking at them! All of that stuff is a gold mine!"

"Yeah but you can't go using that."

"Why not?"

"Remember the last time we used product A's contacts to pre-populate product B? We got put on probation for 20 years!"

"Oh right. Damn. So what do we do?"

"It's easy. Didn't you see that news story where people would give up all kinds of information on themselves for a candy bar?"

"Oh yeah, haha, those idiots."

"Okay, so, we do the same thing! Just ask them for the stuff we need. Most of them won't even know it's valuable!"

"Genius!"

"I'm so glad they bought us."

"Why?"

"Remember the last time we tried to merge these worlds? The FTC came after us like sharks! We had to keep things separate after blowing all of that money on the acquisition and never got to use any of it."

"Yeah, so? What does that have to do with this social thing?"

"When they bought us, we got to hide under their name and their pristine reputation! Everybody trusts them! They'll totally give that information to us with this new name. You know they never would have done that before."

"Yeah, but how long will that reputation last once this gets out?"

"Who cares? We'll make our money long before anyone figures it out."

"Okay. Let's make up a name for this project so we can keep track of everything."

"What should we call it?"

"Oh I don't know, just something dumb for internal purposes. We'll let the marketing guys figure out the external name of it when we launch. Just pick something quick, like the title of a book you like or something."

"Ooh, I got one. This is going to rock!"

"Yeah. All the way to the bank."

Nah. That would never happen. People would see right through it.