69. Maybe you’re impressing your investors. Maybe you’re impressing Wall Street. You’re not impressing us. (The Cluetrain 95 Theses - No69)
This is my blog entry for Cluetrain Thesis #69 for the Cluetrainplus10 commemoration of the 10th anniversary of The Cluetrain Manifesto.
In 2001, William Pilder sent me an email suggesting I might like this Cluetrain book thing. I loved it. Loved the 95 Theses, they spoke to me. The book spoke to me. I started following the guys. Chris Locke, Doc Searls, David Weinberger (and who is Rick Levine!!)
I picked up this “weblog”/”blog” word on the Cluetrain email discussion list which ran on Topica. What the hell was a blog? Ahh, got it. I’ve blogged ever since 2001.
So No 69. 10 years on. Erm you did try to impress your investors. You did try to impress Wall Street, and you almost succeeded, but it all came crashing down. And not only did you not impress us, you took our money, and crashed your company, and your economy and the world economy. Nice one. Thanks a lot.
But come on, why would you behave any differently? Because it worked and you could get away with it. Very few players came into your markets over the last 10 years, using Cluetrain principles, to give your arse a good kicking. That’s been really disappointing. The last 10 years has largely has been business as usual. In fact you’ve often dressed up business as usual, as something different using this Internet thing, and you’ve mostly got away with it.
We overestimate in the short term, and underestimate in the long term. - Paul Saffo
I got that quote from Doc Searls, quoting Paul Saffo. That’s what’s stuck with me the most in the last 10 years of Cluetrain. It hasn’t come true yet, but it will, and we probably won’t recognise it when it has changed, because it was always that way wasn’t it? Some things have moved a lot over the last decade. Think Apple. Think Google (and YouTube). Think Bandwidth. Think online business and banking. Think mobile handsets and mobile computing. The technology has moved rapidly, but that “conversation” still has a way to go.
I predicted the demise of Sun Microsystems. I predicted the demise of Apple. I predicted the demise of Google. I’m not doing well with my predictions….yet. Well once you’re a public company, you have to impress your investors, and you have to impress Wall Street, so by logic, you’re not impressing us!! When you have to make quarterly and weekly and daily reports for your investors and Wall Street, it doesn’t bode well for the long term, if you follow and believe in Cluetrain No 69.
Great companies that survive the decades and centuries put their employees first, and I don’t mean the guys at the top. In the long term, how you treat your employees, is a reflection of how you treat your clients and customers, which in turn will impress Wall Street, or not. We mostly try to impress Wall Street first until the money runs out.
It’s going to be very difficult to let go of this Wall Street dependency. It’s worked reasonably well for centuries, but some of us believe there has to be a better way. Yes, reward innovation and entrepreneurship. Yes, find ways to seek large capital investment, yes reward stakeholders. Aren’t we ready for a new way to build community and businesses? I don’t have the answers, but In the short term we overestimate and in the long term we underestimate.
And finally, my favourite part of the Cluetrain book is near the end.
The Cluetrain Hit-One-Outta-the-Park Twelve-Step Program for Internet Business Success (p170)
- Have a sense of humour.
- Find your voice and use it.
- Tell the truth.
- Don’t panic.
- Enjoy yourself.
- Be brave.
- Be curious.
- Play More.
- Dream Always.
- Listen Up.
- Rap On.