What’s up? How was your 2012? Congrats on marrying Priscilla and registering as an organ donor. Sounds like it was a banner year. As for me, I ran 536 miles, saw The Avengers, and launched a startup resource/news outlet.
But look at me telling you what I did last year like you didn’t already know.
OK. I’ll drop the pretense now because paying $100 to email Mark Zuckerberg is actually a brilliant freaking idea. And for the record, I messaged him and never got the $100 upcharge option to deliver the message directly to his inbox, and I was extremely disappointed. I so totally would have done that.
I don’t have to tell you why this is a gamechanging idea. All right, maybe I do. In a world where digital communication has been broken for well over a dozen years, and that’s based on the assumption that it ever worked at all, upcharging for email (or Facebook messages or Wuhffs or whatever the kids are doing to make sure they’re not wearing the same sweater to Biology) is the perfect third rail solution. And sometimes third rail solutions are exactly the right solution.
The entire concept of “third rail” (that thing that electrocutes you on the subway track), comes from the notion of deficits and Social Security/Medicare. Want to fix the deficit? Hack up Social Security and Medicare. It’ll tick off millions of people and end your career, but it’ll solve the problem.
Or you can just keep farting around with Instagram. Making photos look like accidents, that’s where the money is.
Plus, the groundwork has already been laid. Klout kicked the door wide open for all of us to go around being douchebags about our perceived social importance. They put a number on it. How are we not supposed to take that to the next level? We’re still making hiring decisions based on this completely made-up metric. It’s so stupid, and the public outcry was enormous for a while there, but I guarantee you people are still doing it.
My point is, this will work. Everyone will hate it, but it will work. If I had a spare 48 hours, I’d build a company off of this one idea right now. It’d be a $9.99 mobile app that integrates with your contacts, Facebook, Twitter, all your social apps. You set a price, and BOOM, welcome to inbox zero.
I’m totally 100% serious about this (and there are startups already working on it, so there goes my patent-trolling).
On a day-to-day basis, nobody likes what Facebook is doing. Hell, I don’t like what Facebook is doing. But at some point Zuck needs to stop being everyone’s buddy. He’s got 16 million of them and, seriously, how much is enough? If Facebook doesn’t figure out how to monetize, they’re done, regardless of how many people they alienate or don’t alienate.
Look at Netflix. When they pulled their Qwikster in 2010 everyone lost their damn minds. I quietly left Netflix the day before my subscription got switched over and I’ve never been back. But they took the third rail because they needed to. Their model wasn’t viable.
So yeah, I didn’t get the prompt to spend my hundred bucks, and Facebook is walking the whole fiasco back and saying they’re testing extreme price points. But this is happening, they’re just a couple years ahead of themselves (or maybe a couple months, the Internets are fast).
And I applaud it, not because I like it, not because it’s what I would do, I honestly don’t care enough about Facebook any more than I cared about Netflix. The day they jump the shark on how I would use the product, I’m out. I applaud it because we’re heading that way, and companies like Facebook are supposed to be leading the charge.
If they wind up alienating 15.99 million of Zuck’s friend list along the way, then I’m sure the next Facebook (MySpace, Friendster, Orkut, Diaspora, Google+) will happily take its place.