Truemors and Guy’s clay feet.

TruemorsFrom time to time I have read Guy Kawasaki’s blog. It was usually engaging, informative even if I didn’t always agree. It also exposed sides of the venture beat that I wasn’t familiar with. I came to respect Guy and still do.

When Guy started his new project I was stunned. Truemors was pitched as a place to post inside scuttlebutt. In effect a place to post rumors and gossip. This was the last thing I would have thought Guy would get into.

This shock prompted me to email Guy to quench my curiosity. To my surprise Guy started to correspond and I started to get the feeling that what had transpired was only partly a change in Guy.

After some reflection I realized that a big part was the crumbling of a personal mythology that had developed around Guy’s blog. When we expose parts of ourselves on the web others develop a mental picture of who we are as people. The higher the signal to noise ratio (more quality/less crap) the more respect and expectations.

In this instance I had developed respect for Guy that was tied to the perception of Guy as a VC and analyst. A perception that he had such insight as to be able to see the forest for the trees. Truemors struck me as trivial and fluff. An idea that I would have discounted and rejected.

Of course the reality is that trivial and fluff with the right twist can be more viral and successful than something that took years to develop and millions of dollars. In many ways the paradigms have changed and it truly is the little guy in his garage that can come up with the next great thing for very little money. Throw it against the wall and see what sticks.


When I added Guy on Facebook I received a message to try Truemors. Mind you I get messages from time to time from other developer friends who are developing Facebook apps to tryout their wares and don’t think anything of it. Once again I apply a double standard for Guy.

I told myself that it was because Guy wasn’t commenting on others work or talking about the next great thing he was involved with. Guy was selling Truemors to us. In my mind he had violated a trust. The critic is not allowed to be a promoter.

In my mind Guy was now trading social capital for the success of this enterprise. The earned respect and myth being traded for a chance that you might try his application. That it might be enough to help put Truemors over critical mass.

So of course I send Guy a message, what gives? In Guy’s reply he asks “I have to do what I have to do, right?”.

Guy was right; you do have to give it your all. He wasn’t being any more spam than my other friends, he was simply promoting again. I once again realized that it was my perception that was coloring all of this. I had been affronted when he dared stray from my preconceptions. Guy was simply using his assets to help his investment succeed. This was business.

In the end I have to thank Guy for an education. Once again (as has happened many times before for me) I have learned that people are people. Putting someone on a pedestal clouds our vision of the real person. I would rather know the person than the myth.

One more thing, Guy, good luck with Truemors.

10 thoughts on “Truemors and Guy’s clay feet.

  1. Wow, whats wrong with people promoting projects that they are involved in and like?

    When did Guy claim to be a 100% purely objective 3rd party critic to personally serve you?

  2. Mark,

    That, is precisely my point. We put expectations on people that have nothing to do with the reality of who they are or what we would expect form others.

    We have to be careful when we have an emotional reaction to someones actions. It is good to examine why rather than, as some have, simply complain about it.


  3. Well, no matter how you slice it, to use Twitter or Facebook or other socnets and tools, merely to promote yourself or others (as in PayPerPost spam), you are not doing the online community much good.

    The netiquette for promotions in most socnets is to provide 80% education and 20% promotion. If you can trust and respect from your free advice, some may pay to receive specific advice and other products.

    To use Twitter and Facebook exclusively as tools to sell products or drive traffic to sites is not wise. A negative buzz, a backlash can and does occur with such selfish behaviors.

    Spam is unwanted commercial/self-serving messages. Bacn is barely wanted messages.

  4. True enough. Content to Noise ratio (promotion being noise) is what differentiates spam.

    This article didn’t address that point, but it’s a relevant topic and perhaps it should have.


  5. While he currently only follows 12 people, he does monitor @replies to him, and does do more than just post links. But he does violate vasper’s 80/20 rule when it comes to using Twitter as a promotional tool. He’s not alone of course, and if you don’t like it, you unfollow him. I have a feeling he’s gaining, not losing followers, though I’m not watching (those of you who want to, as of Sept. 17th at 3:23pm ET, he has 832 followers).

  6. I dislike Guy’s “Don’t Worry Be Crappy” philosophy, and I dislike his Truemors site which was getting heavy spam, and does little of value for the web.

    Gossip mongering?

    Why not a site that debates marketing ideas and practices, called Trustwhores?

  7. Just because we find something distasteful doesn’t mean it isn’t a viable business. The reality is that people like gossip, hence why People Magazine, Entertainment Tonight and other celebrity gossip rags continue to make money.

    We have to be careful not to confuse what we dislike with what sells.

    As for “Don’t Worry Be Crappy”: Software is iterative. This is because we are inherently unable to judge the attractiveness of a product till we put it in the customers hands. There is a fine line between Crap and iterative, but the message is still valid.


  8. Marty, merry xmas! (Following your FB status message, great to find your blog)

    Your position about spam is pretty close to what i heard opinionated recently by Daniel in similar conversation. Interestingly enough your/Daniel reaction about this kind of spam is much stronger then mine, which is close to ambivalent. As long as its not enlargement pills of Nigerian gold I will not count it as spam, especially if it’s coming from a friend.

    Now, that would be pretty minor thing, yet few days ago I got into discussion with one of extremely successful FB developer (300,000+ daily many of his apps) who shared a bit of his “teenager mindset” model he uses in app design. Part of which was extreme orientation toward what you just defined as spam. It’s not even a problem he is trying to “solve”. It’s a feature sometimes *requested* by teen users. Why? because its easy! Click here to send X to all your friends. Click here to share Y will all of them. Will teen sit and painstakingly select who needs to get what? never. does he cares about his “social capital”? Actually, he will consider he GAINS it by sending MORE stuff to his friends. He is already too bombarded with real-time stream from his AIM, SMS, wall updates, TV turned on, homework in front of him, etc, etc. He is in constant communication overload but doesn’t think he is overloaded – he was born into culture where this is the norm, not at exception. You always have to shout to be heard.

    That whole lesson was extremely interesting. One realization I had afterwards that our phobia of “spam” could be rooted in fact we actually seen the net without it. Perhaps person exposure to early, high-quality, low traffic, elitist internet early years is directly proportional to his disdain to “spammy” behavior?

    Assuming teen behavior is “way of the future” (which most likely is true since they ARE the future) we may come up with pretty surprising realization our saber rattling against spam could be meaningless cultural attribute of “early net” generation, without much moral and factual foundation. When I started coming up with imaginary arguments vs hypothetical teen to explain “you shall not spam your friends!” commandment I suddenly realized my arguments are not much better then something our grandparents would say against say same-sex marriages: “people don’t do that to each other”, “that’s just wrong”, etc.

    I wound’t consider a blanket permission to spam, but its definitely worthwhile for guys our age ask ourselves more often “what would teen do in such and such situation?”

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