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In the end, it's the Kool Aid that kills you.
March 28, 2001 8:42 AM   Subscribe

In the end, it's the Kool Aid that kills you.
Interesting article about the kool-aid effect in technology. The only difference between a genius and a fool is whether or not the consumer drinks the same brew.
posted by fooljay (8 comments total)

 
In the end, it's the Kool Aid that kills you.


If you're standing against the wall when their mascot, Mr. Kool-aid Man, busts through... :>
posted by samsara at 8:56 AM on March 28, 2001


Just for the record, the Kool-Aid served at Jonestown wasn't Kool-Aid. I guess Flavor-Aid just doesn't have the same ring to it, though.
posted by harmful at 9:00 AM on March 28, 2001


This rings very true.

I had an interview with eToys just before they were going to IPO. There was a very cult-like feeling about the place. They were unstoppable. They were going to all be rich. They were going to be the best. No matter what.

I had three interviews and in each one I mentioned that I could tell they planned to be #1. Every time I said that they'd look at me like I was insane. "We ARE #1."

Before my final interview with the CEO I went to Deja.com and searched for eToys. There were tons of very negative comments about the company. Pages and pages of posts from pissed off customers. Nothing positive.

When I asked about that I could tell that it was something no one was suppose to mention. Like it wasn't real. They were #1. I passed on the job offer.

And now I present, in all it's glory, eToys.com.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:25 AM on March 28, 2001


Mmmm. All this talk about Kool-Aid. I'm thirsty. {Really!}

It's a little like the Jim Clark tale that any inventor or crazy-business-idea starter has to have a personal reality-distortion field around him. I'm actually reading the New New Thing right now -- it's like a trip to another era. But I want to create and implement my ideas right now, so I'm trying to get inspired enough to drink my own Kool-Aid.

Hey, it may be a crazy, risky new business, but damn -- if you were on it, what a ride. Even those who got chewed up and spit out will be able to eat out telling the tale for years to come.
posted by dhartung at 10:05 AM on March 28, 2001


Wolff's right about large businesses resembling cults, but he's way off in trying to make it appear that it's something new or limited to technology companies. Some people use the word culture rather than cult to describe a corporation's belief system. CEO (or business founder/leader in pre-CEO days)as visionary leader has been a standard concept in American business for most of the country's history. Examples: Samuel Slater, King Gillette, David Sarnoff, Fred Smith, Thomas Watson (and Microsoft models their culture more on 1960's IBM than 1980's Apple) and Sam Walton . To survive, large companies must have a recognizable culture that employees can embrace (or reject, in which case they usually leave) and use as a basis for decision making. Without a strong corporate culture a company would fail once it got to a size where the leadership of the company could no longer make and control all decisions.

The question is not as much whether tech companies are cult-like, but at what point does culture (a good thing) become cult (a bad thing). When does culture become too divorced from reality that it becomes cult? At what point do the white lies necessary for a strong culture become the foundations of fraud?
posted by dchase at 11:15 AM on March 28, 2001


In the end (pun intended) it would take a hell of a lot of Kool-aid for me to buy into this.

"We're wiping up the competition"
posted by fooljay at 11:47 AM on March 28, 2001


I had three interviews and in each one I mentioned that I could tell they planned to be #1. Every time I said that they'd look at me like I was insane. "We ARE #1."

Ahh...False Optimism: it's the new False Modesty (TM)!
posted by Succa at 12:51 PM on March 28, 2001


As is the way in this new, scary, post start-up world, Dakota Smith wrote a song about it.
posted by benbrown at 2:22 PM on March 28, 2001


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