Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
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Design principles for 21st century companies, markets, and economies. Foreword by Gary Hamel. Coming January 4th. Pre-order at Amazon.


 
Saturday, November 10, 2007

More Evil, Weekend Edition


I've gotten a lot of comments/emails/etc about the Facebook evil thing.

Just a quick note. Being good or evil isn't about me, you, or anyone else calling companies nasty names. It's a strategic choice firms make.

Microsoft decided to be evil. Google didn't. Wal-Mart decided to be evil; Whole Foods didn't.

See the point?

When I call a company evil, I'm not passing some kind of moral judgment on them. Rather, by observing their strategic choices, I am trying to predict how their outcomes will change.

-- umair // 5:55 PM // 6 comments


Comments:

I think you really need to define what you mean by "evil" more clearly, or at least link to post(s) where you have talked about what "evil" means in this particular context.

It would also be good if you could explain why facebook ads are more evil than myspace ads or google ads.

I have a rough inkling of what you're trying to say, but I'm very fuzzy on the specifics and I suspect I'm not the only one.
// Anonymous Seth Wagoner // 7:18 AM
 

(Decoding Umair Haque) EVIL backwards is LIVE, so Umair's words have an obvious hidden meaning. If you present an "Evil" proposition, it won't Live... (so obvious) ;)
// Blogger Simon Edhouse // 12:27 PM
 

hey guys,

evil should be pretty intuitive. a rough quick def is forcing someone to bear relatively more costs than otherwise.

apply this to facebook (vs google, whoever) and the picture should be clearer. facebook raises the costs to having friends.

thx for the comments.
// Blogger umair // 5:04 PM
 

Seth,

jokes aside. There's a specific history to the use of the word "Evil" in this context, and that began with Google's "Do No Evil" brand promise. Google tried to make a point, early on, presumably to differentiate itself from Microsoft, who were considered by many to have a less than benign corporate philosophy. ~ Facebook, quite naively, have claimed ownership of their user's personal info, seemingly quite oblivious to the implications of breaking trust with its users.

Check the following (tiny URL) from the 'Keep an Open Eye' Blog, for an audit on Google's promise. The analysis there is that the pressure for hyper-growth will always tilt companies toward "evil"... http://tinyurl.com/ytewgt

(quote from that site:) "...I believe compliance with big governments plus committment to ambitious financial plans have effectively reduced Google’s “Do No Evil” slack or wiggle room quite considerably. But do not shed a tear for Google, because Yahoo, Microsoft, Cisco and other major IT vendors in the SaaS-Software as a Service game are facing the same governmental challenges and have also succumbed themselves to the same WallStreet Analyst Press Gang of Great, if not Exhorbitant, Expectations."
// Blogger Simon Edhouse // 12:09 AM
 

Umair,

I assumed that to you:

Evil = closed, proprietary, restricted use licneces, a walled garden

Good = open, shared, distributed

So Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, AOL, Telcos and the Record Co's are evil because their aim is to extract rent's by locking you into their proprietary platform or walled garden. This is what VC's call an "unfair advantage"

Google, Flock, BitTorrent and Radio Head are good because they make money by organising and sharing fundamentally open activites. These companies disrupt other people's walled gardens

Correct me if I'm wrong
// Anonymous Murray // 5:23 AM
 

The way I see it is that Google has always made user experience an absolute priority while also looking after revenues. MS and FB have, in my opinion, left a big gap between where user experience and revenues sit in the priority list.

So you get poor quality ads on facebook and friends accidentally spamming each other when they add applications. With Microsoft you pay a premium for software and they operate in a closed manner, always looking to tie you in.
// Blogger Luke // 9:58 AM
 
 

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