Believe it or not this is an act of friendship
Saturday, August 11, 2007 by Dave Winer.
Jason Calacanis posted a continuation of the discussion around his presentation at Gnomedex yesterday. It's mostly personal, about me. Pretty nasty stuff, anything but friendly. He could just edit that stuff out, it's irrelevant and a distraction only to stupid people. If he wants to succeed as the CEO of Mahalo, he's going to have to get past his feelings and listen to what we were saying, and think about it, and resolve the conflict he has in the structure of his new company, rather than just try to pave it over with his personal issues with me.
He misses an important point. He got a lot of people mad with his pure product pitch, one that railed against advertising and spam, which ironically, was exactly what he was doing to the environment at this mostly non-commercial conference. What we said (and I wasn't the only one speaking back to him, I wasn't even the first) was a response to his pitch. It didn't come out of thin air. If he had given a similar speech to venture capitalists, where he offered them no way to win, they would have had the same response, but it probably wouldn't have been as patient or polite. Now, clearly he doesn't have the same respect for us that he has for VCs. But it seems that to some extent the success of his company depends on winning over the people here at Gnomedex. If it didn't, he should have stayed home, because his pitch, as delivered, doesn't work here, because he didn't offer us anything we want. We get a better deal from Google, believe it or not.
Some of his argument against Google rings true, very few people love them as we did in their early days, but their proposition to web writers and podcasters like the in the room yesterday is basically fair, it's a win-win. We get flow from them, they get ad revenue. They've even offered us a way to put ads on our sites, so we can profit financially from a relationship with Google. Nothing in Jason's pitch offers us anything like that. No flow, no money. It's not a platform, so we can't build on it.
So there's a big bug in the concept behind his company and he tries to blow by it with an attack aimed at one person. The only people that's going to convince are really stupid people. Smart folk can see right through it.
Bottom-line, he needs to figure out a way to build the company so that many others can profit from it. Otherwise I don't think it has a prayer against Google, which we like less and less as a company, but who basically offers an equitable proposition to the users of the Internet, who the Gnomedex crowd represent in a loose kind of way.
HIs pitch here failed. He can't blame me for that. A good CEO goes back to the drawing board and figures out what works. I've known lots of successful CEOs, that's how they all work. I know many more CEOs of companies that failed, and they approach problems the way Jason is approaching this one.