Guy Kawasaki Responds to Truemors Criticism

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Guy Kawasaki opened Truemors up to the public about a week ago, and the feedback wasn’t very good. I even wrote a review and guide to the site and even offered some advice. Now, Guy fires back at the detractors and justifies his decisions.
Thanks for the “dissection.” All feedback is good. Here are some thoughts for you:
Lack of focus: Believe it or not, this is on purpose. We put out a tool that can be used to follow Paris Hilton, Guatanamo Bay, Detroit Red Wings, or Motorola. This was quite on purpose–we want the “community” to decide what market Truemors serves. My philosophy is that customers ultimately decide how a new product is positioned, so one should “let a hundred flowers blossom.”Also, the site is eight days old. This is like saying that eBay on its eighth day should have focused on selling cars and not Barbie dolls: “No one will use it because they won’t know what kinds of things are bought and sold their because eBay didn’t limit the categories.”
Lack of registration: Also quite on purpose. We are trying to remove the barriers to having a voice on the web. We believe that registration would have a chilling effect–imagine if you are a whistle blower and the first thing you have to do is set up an account and get email confirmation.
Lack of incentive: A good point, and one that we are trying to figure out. Hopefully people will want to develop a reputation as a good Truemorist the way people like Neil have developed a reputation on Digg. What motivates someone to want to be Digg god like Neil? It’s not the money because there is none. The challenge we face is that to “track” Neil we have to register him, and as I said, registration has a chilling effect… More to come in this area–perhaps with a special denotation of the status of people as “Truemorists” (see below).
Lack of exclusivity: Yup, this is true. Guilty as charged and proud of it. It’s a central focus of why I did Truemors. My belief is that you shouldn’t have to have scribes, a printing press, a Macintosh and PageMaker, a web site, or a blog to “tell the world.” The bad news according the most bloggers is that anyone can post anything; the good news is that anyone can post anything. However, we do have a status called “Truemorist.” These people have an account with a password. They can create, edit, delete, and add pictures. In a perfect world, there would be about 500 hardcore Truemorists plus “anyone posting anything.”
Crappy content, spam, etc: A cost of doing business. On the first day we were open, we had 405 posts. 218 were deleted of this total. During the first week, people were basically trying to see if it was true that “anyone could post anything” and what they could get away with. It’s vastly settled down already.
Here’s something very interesting: half the bloggers think there was too much crap. The other half thinks there’s too much censorship and deletion. So here’s the test for what doesn’t get deleted at Truemors. It has to truly be a truemor: something that is news, a true rumor. Opinions, good or bad, get deleted because Truemors isn’t a discussion board. For example, “Did you hear that Seth Godin hates Truemors?” stays. “Guy sucks” doesn’t. PR hype gets deleted unless is cleverly written as a truemor. For example, “Buy discount tickets here” gets deleted. “Did you hear there’s a new way to buy tickets and save a boatload?” won’t if its truly a new way and does save money.
A simple way to look at it is this: Suppose you read something at Truemors, would you ask your spouse, relatives, friends, colleagues, etc, “Did you hear that….?” If it passes this test, then it’s highly likely that it will stay. If not, it’s highly likely it will be deleted.
Built on WordPress: This blows me away. I don’t understand the stigma of being built on Word Press. Isn’t Scoble, everyone’s hero, using Word Press? Should we look down on companies using MySQL instead of Oracle?
Only getting PR because it’s Guy: Also, true, but what am I supposed to do: hide the fact that it’s me? And when I publish my next book, use an anonymous pen name? All of entrepreneurship is about tipping the field in your direction by doing whatever you can including your past reputation. Entrepreneurship is not about a level playing field–it’s about gaining every advantage that you can. It took me 23 years to get to this point, I sure am going to use whatever advantages I can.
Here’s what I truly don’t understand. Sure, shoot me and Truemors down. It’s okay. I’m a big boy and a juicy target. Such is life. But if I were an entrepreneur, I would be thinking: “Life is good. Guy has shown that with $12,000 and seven weeks of work you can launch a company today. Open source has changed the world. Now I don’t need to spend 6-9 months sucking up to clueless VCs in between their golf games and trips to the south of France and 6-9 months duking it out with a compiler. By tapping the blogosphere I can get PR without spending $10,000/month on a PR firm and $40,000 at Demo. I can come up with an idea, launch it, and see if it works.”
–Guy Kawasaki

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  • Louis

    Perhaps Guy could give an account of how he built Truemors with $12,000. I think a lot of startup entrepreneurs might benefit from that.

  • Stan Schroeder

    Good answers from Guy, glad he took the time to write this. He knows and most smart people know that all this won’t matter at all: what will matter is growth. If Truemors manages to grow and become a big community, it’s a success. If it doesn’t, it’s a flop. Simple as that.

  • Guy Kawasaki

    “Did you hear there’s a new way to buy tickets and save a boatload?” won’t if its truly a new way and does save money.
    This “its” should be “it’s.” Don’t want all the English teachers flaming me too. 🙂
    Also, there was a smiley after this sentence:
    Here’s something very interesting: half the bloggers think there was too much crap. The other half thinks there’s too much censorship and deletion.

  • Guy Kawasaki

    Louis: I will provide a breakdown of the costs in my blog. Ironically, I have not blogged about Truemors on my own blog yet (other than the vague Help Wanted) because our server is getting overloaded, and I didn’t want to contribute to the slow performance.

  • rj

    I just wanted to say that I commend Guy on taking the time to reply to all the criticisms and doubts personally. There’s definitely a lesson to be learned about how to deal with naysayers.

  • Frederick Townes

    I have to agree with RJ. I like how Guy stands up to the comments and has an answer for everything (it’s my style as well). And if he’s interested Guy, I have some web site optimization tips for you eek out more performance from your servers. Shameless, but true.

  • HMTKSteve

    I have been thinking about this all week and I have come to figure how Truemors is good and revolutionary. I took the time to blog about it but the general idea is that Truemors offers all the good of digg without the diggers.

  • Passenger 57

    They deleted all SimplyHired rumors because they are true even if they gut tens of thumbs up… Guy sucks big time.

  • Guy Kawasaki

    Passenger 57,
    If Google buys SimplyHired, I will you an iPod. If it doesn’t, you apologize to me on this blog. Deal?

  • aaron

    Louis: I heard Guy actually spent a billion dollars developing truemors. I can’t commit to buying anyone an ipod if I’m wrong though.

  • suresh Babu

    Wow This is Interesting. I think there are some potential for something Different than the normal Stuff. And it all depends on user’s interest what they like and dont, We all are different.And lets Hope and Wish anyone with some new ideas to see How it works for them. Hey who knows this could be more popular than Digg.
    Thank you

  • Geordie

    Rightfully or not, when a guru puts himself out there and launches something of his own, the scrutiny is going to be fierce. It reminds me of when Seth Godin stuck his personal brand behind Squidoo. Squidoo is still around, which is saying something in of itself, but I’m not sure it ever reached the ubiquity that everyone would EXPECT from a high-profile endorsee/co-founder. While truemors was a bit busy and confusing for me to be sure to come back to, I think it’s a damned-if-do/don’t scenario as far as Guy is concerned. You can’t please everyone all the time.
    As long as truemors is a product Garage would have gotten behind if it wasn’t Guy’s, then good on him for defending it. If it was a concept Garage wouldn’t have given the time of day, then it’s going to be a tough sell to everyone else too.