I’m concerned about the lessons being taught to young technology entrepreneurs:
Create. Grow. Fund. Billionaire.
Personally, I love the concept of entrepreneurism and growth; and who doesn’t have at least one day every year when they wonder what it would be like to be a Billionaire!
But are having a good idea and being able to initially execute on that idea good enough reasons to become a highly sought after target for VC funding?
According to Jim Goetz, a Partner at Sequoia Capital, it sure is – with an interesting caveat: That the young founders of Yik-Yak can magically change the course of online adolescent and young adult behavior.
Jim Goetz, a partner at Sequoia Capital who recently joined Yik Yak’s board, said the app’s history of misuse was a concern when his firm considered investing in the company. But he said he was confident that Mr. Droll and Mr. Buffington were committed to ensuring more positive interactions on Yik Yak, and that over time, the constructive voices would overwhelm the destructive ones.
Jim, is an environment that inadvertently promotes cyberbullying – even if it wasn’t its intended use – a worthy recipient of $62M in Series B funding? Is your confidence that Droll and Buffington – themselves barely few years north of writing the same yaks appearing on their vaunted pre-IPO platform – can magically re-architect Yik-Yak based on some hidden knowledge of human behavior and rid this VC money-printing machine of “the faceless trolls and jerks that abuse these kinds of spaces”?
Jim, what about Yik-Yak’s history as a platform for abuse and cyberbullying didn’t scare you away? Was it the viral takeoff signaling a treasure trove of marketing targets and an IPO payday? What about Yik-Yak isn’t causing you buyer’s remorse? Is it how the app is now downvoting mentions of competitors?
Jim, they can’t be downvoting competitors because Mr. Buffington claims that Yik-Yak is “delivering organic and unfiltered truths, which cannot be said for other news mediums.”
Jim, what about the phrase “unfiltered truth” means downvoting competitors? I must not be very smart to understand this.
For certain, anonymity apps can be used by citizens living in oppressed nations but heck, these countries are already doing a fine job of blocking access. But if you look at where Yik-Yak’s growth takes place – on college campuses, in high schools, the only oppression that takes place are the targets of the anonymous vitriol.
Jim, a platform that by its very architecture and mission offers an easy way to spew this vitriol with impunity. Please Jim, tell me what is so empowering about this – even if it used by a relatively small number of users? Please Jim, tell me how an app like this can help to bolster the self-esteem of young people whose psyche has already taken beatings from members of society who claim that success can only measured by a pair of three-letter acronyms, GPA and IPO?
Jim, social goodness can’t take place without honesty yet the core concept of Yik-Yak – anonymity – veils honesty.
Jim, what are we going to do?
A guilty pleasure used to be a big piece of chocolate cake; in this social media era it seems that proving one’s superiority has eclipsed food as the new dopamine spritz.
Jim, in case you missed this, Iggy Azalea clearly demonstrates she understands elements of human behavior better than you when she wrote that,
Blue ribbons and IPOs? What about social goodness?