One of my favorite bloggers and thinkers about social media, Anil Dash, has a blog post up on Medium titled You Can’t Start the Revolution from the Country Club. Go read it because he's talking about some important stuff.

In his post Anil observes that in many of the most interesting new social media services, there is a sense of exclusivity built into the experience. A velvet rope as it were. And in many cases, this is being done to produce signal instead of noise, to make the consumption experience easier, and to produce "quality content." Anil calls bullshit on that. And so do I.

I have learned the power of inclusivity from writing this blog and watching this community evolve. Everyone is welcome here. Everyone can comment. Nobody's comments get nuked unless they are spam or hate. And I have a very high standard for hate. The community can and does police this place. And that allows anyone to come in here and be a regular. And that is what has created the magic.

If you look at some of the best communities on the web, like reddit for example, they all follow this approach. It makes for a noisy and messy experience. But it works and it scales.

This is my basic argument for free as a business model. Once you insert money into the equation, you are excluding important voices. Once you insert exclusivity into the quality model, you are excluding important voices.

Some of these "country clubs" as Anil calls them may succeed. But they don't inspire me. They don't invite me (in the behavior sense of that word). I'll hang out in public if you don't mind. It suits me.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Harry DeMott

    Virgin powder here.It’s like the old quote “you get the government you deserve”Here it is “you get the community you deserve”I find this community great, because it is self policing and it brings in different points of view on almost everything. And because the comments are almost universally worth reading.Techcrunch – not so much. There’s no one there really coming there with the purpose of coming back time and again, which is the key differentiator. If you are coming back – then you don’t want to trash the place.Who said “the medium is the message?” Marshall McCluhan? Might have to be modified – but the idea stands.

    1. fredwilson

      it’s a good day when harry shows up here!i’ve missed you in these parts lately

    2. ShanaC

      Welcome backI think the web puts Marshall McCluhan, who did say “the medium is the message” in a loop because of his theory of hot and cold mediums…

  2. gregorylent

    the best example of community, and signal/noise efficiency, is nature … make your products align with the way nature works

    1. fredwilson


    2. andyswan

      I really like this a lot. It’s how I think of government — that it should be aligned with human nature (emphasis on self/individual and embracing of the pursuit of self-interest).You just made me realize that I could be a lot more focused on that same philosophy in business and other areas of life as well.

    3. sprugman

      That’s a great sentiment, and I agree as philosophy, but I’m not sure what that means in the context this post.

    4. falicon

      that being said, it’s been human nature to fight, control, tame, and ‘organize’ nature pretty much since the start of time…

    5. ShanaC

      Nature is complicated and simple at the same time – simplicity leading into complexity.I keep thinking about darwin and evolution here – lots of signals, lots of noise, but only a few of both leads to development

  3. Wells Baum

    Good timing on the post. I expressed my frustration with exclusivity on Branch, Svbtle, and Medium yesterday on a TechCrunch post entitled “Iterations: The New Movable Type” by Semil Shah.This is what I said, in frustration of being left out. “Medium and Svbtle are also exclusionary club for tech writers. I understand control and scale but legitimate blogger can’t even get in. Why make so much noise and limit invitations?”FYI Fred, link to Anil Dash article is inactive.

    1. fredwilson

      i will see what’s up with that anil link

      1. Wells Baum

        Like you said “Community.” We all want to see each other succeed.

        1. ShanaC

          Yes. Communities are driven to get individuals to succeed so that the group benefits 🙂

          1. Wavelengths

            Well, when the members are a bit more enlightened than those who think they’ve moved themselves forward when they’ve stepped on someone else’s neck.(BTW, did you ever watch Daria?)

          2. ShanaC

            (No, I have never watched Daria – by the time I got cable, I was way old, so I never got hooked on watching lots of tv)And no, I think this is inherent in group dynamics, the group wants individuals to succeed if they are part of the group. The real problem is how groups interact with each other (the metagroup!) and what information/individuals gets passed through the otherwise weak borders that define a group that gets lost in translation.This might be because I spent a good chunk of my weekend reading parts of “Jewish Self Hatred” which is largely about this idea of othering by and for the liminal individuals as social changes took place (primarily within Germany – though I am not sure if I buy the argument)

    2. fredwilson

      link fixed. thanks!!!

      1. Wells Baum

        You’ve got me fired up:”Furthermore, even when you get into Branch, you have to be invited to a group conversation. I was ok with that in the beginning but have recently found it annoying. I shouldn’t have to give the community owner a one sentence preview before I get approved to speak. Quora does just fine with open comments. Those with the best opinion/insight get voted up. I hope Fred’s post get these blogging platforms to change their minds and be more open. We need to keep the web an open democracy.”

        1. falicon

          The web itself will continue to be an open democracy…there are a lot of useful reasons for private/exclusive clubs to exist as well (and so they will continue to be created and some will thrive)…they are not mutually exclusive things in my book.Those that are exclusive will have a harder time reaching the masses…but will likely have an easier time reaching profit and providing high quality value to their members (once they hit an initial scale/size).It just depends on what your end goal and ultimate purpose is.

          1. Wells Baum

            Understand that their vision is a more professional blogger/commenting community, quality over quantity. It’s going to be a challenge for them unless they morph into a site like TechCrunch.

  4. Carl Rahn Griffith

    “I’d never join a club that would have me as a member.” ~ Marx (Groucho, that is).

    1. fredwilson

      my mantra for life!!!!

    2. awaldstein

      I hear this and I want to go watch ‘Manhattan’ again this evening.

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith


      2. LE

        Hmm. My creative brain says that that could be a twist. Pairing wines to movies. Something never done and a way to distinguish like a subsip or something. Here’s what we recommend when you watch …

        1. Wavelengths

          Arrogant Bastard? Oh, wait, that’s an ale.

  5. awaldstein

    I buy into the fact that inclusivity is the dna of the web.I also believe that membership can be inclusive by design. Maybe the idea of ‘membership’ will go away but for now, I know of no way to create buyers clubs or create economic value to groups around transactions without accounts.So yes…exclusivity may be bullshit but tactically membership need not be.

  6. swapneel

    Why there is no RSS feed on Anil’s Blog. i just couldn’t find it

  7. kidmercury

    i’m pro-exclusivity. i think it is another way of saying pro-niche.the country club/velvet rope stuff is lame, and i too am turned off by it. but exclusivity can be values-based. for instance, suppose there was “advanced MBA mondays” where you needed to have a sufficient degree of education and/or community participation to be allowed into a private forum. i think this type of exclusivity could be highly advantageous in all regards (monetization source, community building source, aspiration source, game play synergies, etc).this is different than and all the other signs of exclusivity in the tech world, which don’t appeal to values — only status.

    1. JamesHRH

      Totally agree, exclusivity = niche.

    2. JimHirshfield

      “…have a sufficient degree of education…” How’s that? People that don’t fit into the academic system as defined by the academic system aren’t smart enough to participate? What did you do with the real @kidmercury:disqus ? 😉

      1. kidmercury

        it’s all about what community you’re in…..perhaps if you want street cred in fredland, you might have to graduate from the school of fred…….

        1. JimHirshfield

          How many Fredits do I need to graduate?

          1. kidmercury

            HAHAHAHA! that might be favorite fred pun. 😀

          2. Wavelengths

            Can’t I put MBA Mondays on my resume?

        2. JLM

          .The good thing is you never graduate, you just keep learning..

          1. kidmercury


        3. Abdallah Al-Hakim

          strongly agree about the community. It should be the community that vouches for you. This doesn’t have to be an elitist process because the selection is not based on economics or what degrees you have

        4. ShanaC

          I feel a need to pull out a tricorner hat again….

    3. falicon

      +100 to all of this.

    4. kirklove

      Agreed Kid. You’re killing it lately (IMO)

      1. kidmercury

        thanks! although since we’re both on the same meme — niche takeover — i think we’re both killing it 🙂 now i just need to translate it into startup success…..that’s the easy part, right?

        1. kirklove

          Easy no. Doable absolutely.

    5. Wavelengths

      I’m pro-niche, but the niches I’m attracted to have shared interests and the members come in all colors, social classes, countries of origin, religions, and so on. Even level of education is not a barrier. An HVAC technician may have a layman’s interest in string theory.In a bamboo bungalow far upriver in Sarawak, I sat across the table from an impressive, burly man, perhaps in his early thirties, who was introduced to me as a native from a nearby village of (former) headhunters. His first words to me were, “So! Tell me about your country and the Native Americans.” We had a fascinating discussion.In Malaysia, I found people in big cities and tiny villages who were ready to have thoughtful conversations about social and political issues. As a blonde woman, you would think I would not have crossed the barrier of their exclusivity, but our meeting ground was our willingness to talk. (And this is also true in Texas, Idaho, Maine, Oklahoma, Louisiana … even Chicago!)

    6. ShanaC

      It depends.There are organziations were there is definitely a need for exclusivity. Certain aspects of life should be at least partially out of the public eye.Still, to your example of “advanced MBA mondays” – Teach yourself and catch up. Not a reason to exclude, and if we were comparing to college courses, you could always ask for written permission to skip the prerequisites. Prerequisites is different than exclusivity though.

    7. Tom Limongello

      I was thinking the same thing when there is a real value jump with certain niches. I was thinking less about advanced degrees, I was thinking more about how Instagram stayed away from easy web sharing, and made sure that they grew as an exclusively iPhone community for as long as they could. Having a high bar for camera quality is one reason for exclusivity. In addition, making sure people viewed on mobile as much as possible until a cottage industry of sites using their API started granting access on desktop browsers via sites and plugins is another.It is still particularly difficult to re-share an instagram post, you’d have to know to initiate a tweet and then copy and paste the link before you cancel to get at the link, and my guess is that re-blogging pics from others both undermines the social network and potentially since they are dealing in pictures would increase fears of privacy for more conservative users.There may be a difference between text / link based social networking and photo sharing networks, but for me it was quite interesting to see just how exclusive instagram has been by design.

    8. matthughes

      Word, Kid.

    9. LE

      “the country club/velvet rope stuff is lame”Fine. So make your own country club and velvet rope then.The jews were kept out of corporate america, white shoe law firms, golf clubs, non-jewish vacation spots etc. So they did their own things. And are very happy. Hollywood as one example:…Gabler’s main thesis is that these producers (whom Gabler terms ‘Hollywood Jews’) generally came from poor, fatherless backgrounds, and felt like outsiders in America because of their Jewishness. In Hollywood, these producers were able to run their own industry, assimilate into the American mainstream, and produce movies that fulfilled their vision of the American dream. Gabler asserts that the nature of their business and their movies can often be traced back to their feelings of alienation as immigrants.Law:…(and there are obviously many examples of this).Guess what there is opportunity in America. And also even within the immigrant groups that have made it there is a velvet rope and admission isn’t just handed to you. You have to earn it. The key is always hard work and proving yourself to those in power. Nothing has changed and it never will. There will never be enough good stuff for everybody to share. It simply doesn’t work that way in life.

      1. kidmercury

        i’m not sure how your comment relates to the discussion at hand, though i disagree with the assertion that america is a land of opportunity — or at least that idea is on the decline. i also disagree that there will “never be enough good stuff for people to share.” soon if not already everyone — and i really mean everyone — will have a smartphone. a small example, but the golden age is almost here. it does work that way in life, it’s just that the cycles are really, really long.

        1. LE

          “your comment relates to the discussion at hand”It relates to your comment which was “the country club/velvet rope stuff is lame”. I don’t agree it’s lame and it serves a purpose and isn’t the barrier but motivation to create your own opportunity.”i disagree with the assertion that america is a land of opportunity”By my definition of opportunity, it is. Even today, with young people and the job market, there is opportunity. Why? Because the average millennial thinks like a millennial and someone who thinks old school could clearly distinguish themselves. People have crappy attitudes.”i also disagree that there will “never be enough good stuff for people to share.””There won’t be if you are talking about material goods. The car of today and the housing of today is clearly better than 20 or 40 years ago. But there are still houses, neighborhoods and autos that cost more and, yes, you do get something for your money (which is not to say the extra that you get is linear to what you pay.) Ever stay in a nice hotel? It is way nicer than a Holiday Inn (which has gotten way nicer than 20 years ago btw..)Health care? Some of the best doctors don’t take insurance. Doesn’t mean there aren’t good doctors that do of course. But do you really think there is enough “best of best” to treat everbody the same? There isn’t and there will never be. Someone will get the shorter end of the stick.”and i really mean everyone — will have a smartphone”I’m not talking about the third world nor is it a concern of mine. (So go ahead and hate me for that if you want.)By the way, was up at Cornell the last few days. And there is a huge building being built called the “Bill and Melinda Gates Hall” for computing.…Because it’s not all about curing malaria you see. Bill, like anyone, wants to get smoke blown up his ass by all sorts of people. And it’s his money so he can do what he wants with it.

          1. kidmercury

            there is an abundance of everything, material stuff included. nanotechnology, energy abundance…..all that stuff is within reach and will shatter all notions of scarcity.we won’t get there though the plot of land known as the USA. the world will be completely re-wired to get to the widely prophecied age of abundance. the USA will continue to experience greater and greater income inequality and decreasing social mobility. you can say it is because the world all of sudden got a bad attitude. those literate in economics will favor a different explanation.i don’t hate you for being ignorant of problems in other parts of the world, rather i pity you for being blind to the opportunities that solving those problems creates.

          2. LE

            “i don’t hate you for being ignorant of problems in other parts of the world, rather i pity you for being blind to the opportunities that solving those problems creates.”I’m not ignorant at all to the problems. I am well aware of the problems and it’s unfortunate. But it’s not the way I choose to spend my time or worry. It’s a distraction and it won’t put food on the table, pay for healthcare, the gift for my wife, or the people who create my happiness. I’m realistic and pragmatic. The people around you also determine what you can do. It’s a delicate balance. As Fred knows.”the opportunities that solving those problems creates. “Not my business model to solve those problems. And if I was going to solve a problem it would be along the lines of what Fred is doing with AFSE or more exactly creating opportunities for kids in poor neighborhoods who don’t have the right influence or role models needed in order to succeed because of their shitty surroundings. And that would be something that would interest me regardless of the profit potential. I would just do that (if I could and I’m not quite there yet) just because it’s something local and needs to be done and is of interest.

          3. kidmercury

            fair enough, if you’re not up to the challenge i understand. perhaps some day you’ll get the better attitude needed to see how global affluence is within your reach and to your advantage.

          4. LE

            “if you’re not up to the challenge”One of the things you have to do when trying to bait someone sell someone is understand what makes them tick. What their hot buttons are. “Change the world” apparently worked with Scully, but it wouldn’t have worked with me. Likewise the word “challenge” is something I create for myself. It’s not something I need to do in response to a third party idea or contest.”get the better attitude”If attitude were equipment size mine would be 20 inches. (Sorry ladies just trying to make a point.)

          5. kidmercury

            i just realized you were right all along about the economy. most people share your attitude and are not up to the challenge of fixing the problem. if they don’t think they can fix it, then obviously they can’t. looks like you were right all along!

      2. ShanaC

        You should note that now Jewish and Catholic people who did do these things are part of the establishment. Life is funny that way

      3. JLM

        .”No Irish Need Apply”Every nationality has had its time in the tub, some more than others.It is a rotten reality. And it is wrong.JLM.

        1. LE

          Otoh, as demonstrated by my example (and I”m sure the ones that you could add) it creates adversity that leads to great outcomes. Same with any time someone has a need to work hard and doesn’t have things handed to them.

    10. kidmercury

      if anyone is going to the built in chicago event tomorrow (wednesday sept 5) please feel free to introduce yourself, or let me know so i can introduce myself. i’ll be the indian guy in a grey-ish sweatshirt.

    11. Luke Chamberlin

      Along the lines of your post, there’s a big difference in my mind between communities created through self-selection and those created by force.Think members-only social club vs. the local comic shop.You know approximately who you’ll find in each but the methods that created those communities are very different from each other.


      Surprise! I agree with kid mercury. Exclusivity is essential in the context of a marketplace. There is nothing wrong with lowering the common denominator so everyone can play in a pure social context. But in a marketplace – where you get what you pay for – separating the pros from the amateurs is one way to create value, grow the market, and protect customers.In the advertising marketplace, their is no credentialing. Anyone can claim to be an expert. That is one reason the click rate is so low and we hate advertising.K-

  8. Rohan

    Somebody wisely observed that nature’s processes are inherently dirty, yucky, noisy.If you look at how life is conceived and born – sex is a dirty, yucky process, so is giving birth to a child. A child’s natural instinct is to roll on the floor.. it’s us who clean and ‘teach’ cleanliness and organization. (as they probably give us the illusion of control)My view is that great things originate much like life and are built by sleepless, tired people who barely managed to make it over the line… (and not the country club sort)

    1. falicon

      @LE has gotten to you hasn’t he! 😉

    2. ShanaC

      Too true 🙂



  9. Guest

    This has been my problem with things like TED.

    1. JamesHRH

      It is also the reason TED is so successful, now.

    2. William Mougayar

      But TED is very inclusive and far reaching when it comes to sharing the presentations and knowledge resulting from their events. The only exclusive part is their events where invited guests rub shoulders with one another, but that’s overrated. TED’s value is also in finding those thought leaders and original thinkers and making them available to the masses.

      1. falicon

        Agree. The bottom line is that often to stand for something, means to stand AGAINST many other things…which can appear as ‘exclusive’ to some, but really it’s just a ‘mission filter’.

        1. William Mougayar


      2. ShanaC

        why is the rubbing shoulders overrated?

        1. William Mougayar

          Because not everyone values that. It is people networking of course, but not all of these speakers hang around and want to meet others.

      3. fredwilson

        yup. they’ve done a good job with that

    3. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Never in the history of PowerPoint has there been so much vacuous, pretentious, and pseudo intellectual bullshit, as hosted by TED.Maybe once in a while a relevant and stimulating speaker/topic comes along – but not enough to justify the whole TED nonsense.Funny film, though 😉

      1. fredwilson


    4. fredwilson


  10. William Mougayar

    Anil is also one of my favorite bloggers. He wrote that post on his blog originally 2 weeks ago. I’m curious why Medium doesn’t have commenting. My hunch is they’ll probably allow a Branch out before they let the (inclusive) public chime in. But there is a dichotomy I don’t fully comprehend in that post. Anil is very aligned with Branch (he’s an Advisor)  which is a semi exclusive club, and his post was mainly aimed at cutting up App.Net who has been a lot more inclusive and open than Twitter for their API access. I’m calling bullshit on his bullshit. 

    1. falicon

      To me the idea of Medium is ‘longer, deeper conversations’…so the idea is to write a blog post response, rather than a comment…so I liken it more to a debate platform than a pure blogging platform.

      1. ShanaC

        how is this different from hattiping though?

        1. falicon

          I don’t know that it is…

          1. ShanaC

            so why bothering with new tech that does the same thing as old tech?

          2. falicon

            Well it’s part ‘fresh design’ and it’s part ‘celebrity’ backing…only a select few with a track record like Ev, could have a shot at pulling something like this off…Sometimes I think success can be more about the people behind the effort than the idea itself, or even much of the details of execution…I guess really it just goes back to Fred’s “right team, right idea, right product, right time, and right market” concept ->…I think history shows that Ev especially is a master at identifying the proper combination of all those things as it relates to content generation (thereby making him even more ‘the right person’).

          3. ShanaC

            Fresh design is nice, but it doesn’t help you publisher side so much right now 🙂

          4. FAKE GRIMLOCK


        2. jason wright


    2. JimHirshfield

      I get the sense there’s more backstory here. Did the guys at Medium reblog this as a way of saying “mea cupla”?I too found it odd that his post was hosted on one of the communities he calls out. Let’s hope it’s because they’re heeding his word…Or perhaps more likely (?) that Anil’s trying to press for change from the inside.

      1. William Mougayar

        Dunno the real answer, but Medium has been re-blogging a few pieces to get going.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Interesting.Also agree with you on the comments (Medium’s lack thereof). Yes, I’m biased, but a lack of comments on any blog comes across as elitist IMHO.

          1. William Mougayar

            We are so used to commenting as a by-product of anything we read. Not seeing a comment space almost feels odd, like we’re being lectured to and it gives the sense that the author doesn’t want to be bothered. Even President Obama is doing online AMA sessions, so why wouldn’t authors do as well?

          2. ShanaC

            Because writing well is a craft and a time intensive one with low payoff?

          3. Wavelengths

            And also an art. And artists are notoriously low paid.

          4. ShanaC

            Long payoff for art. Very long.

          5. JimHirshfield

            Yes, but recent White House blog post (on White House beer) had no comments ability. And well, beer is ALWAYS worthy of a comment.

          6. Wavelengths

            I’ll raise a glass of Arrogant Bastard Ale!

          7. JimHirshfield

            Is that a real ale? And/or are you making a political statement?

          8. Wavelengths

            Quote from the label: “This is an aggressive beer. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. We would suggest that you stick to safer and more familiar territory — maybe something with a multi-million dollar ad campaign aimed at convincing you it’s made in a little brewery, or one that implies that their tasteless fizzy yellow beer will give you more sex appeal …”See JLM knows, if I put a comment in parentheses it is our private secret. Why did you think I might be making a political statement? 😉

          9. ShanaC

            I want to try this beer!

          10. Wavelengths

            I tried it; I liked it; and I like the bottle too much to open it unless I have someone to share it with.Let me know when you’re in West Texas?

          11. ShanaC

            beer spoils.If I am in texas, I will tell you. Mostly because I can’t drive 🙂

          12. JimHirshfield

            Being unfamiliar with that beer and your political affiliation + my reference to the White House, one could infer that Arrogant Bastard was a slight on the POTUS.

          13. Dave W Baldwin

            Good stuff 😉

      2. Anil Dash

        I posted this both to my personal blog and to my Medium account at the same time, to make sure I reached both audiences.

        1. JimHirshfield

          Good stuff. Thanks for the background.

        2. William Mougayar

          Medium has an audience already? Why are their pages so hidden and with cryptic URL’s. When will we be able to navigate from the home page for e.g.? I’m really LMHO when I have to find this excellent IMHO page by back-tracking from your article that was posted here to get to there:

    3. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      A bullshit is A bullshit… in which ever angle you look at it :-).

    4. Anil Dash

      Actually, William, my post wasn’t aimed at cutting anybody up; I admire and Dalton, and in fact have been talking to him about the ideas behind it since before it started. I just happen to think his platform is interesting enough, and thoughtful enough, to be worth calling the issue out. You might also note that I’ve publicly asked the Branch team to improve in some of these areas as well; To their credit, they’ve already made good progress in doing so.

      1. William Mougayar

        Thanks Anil. I may have used a strong language there, but I had the impression that you felt was part of the country club segment, whereas it is just a starting point of its evolution. I realize that someone influential like yourself can draw attention and action based on what they say, and that can be a good thing when you’re trying to nudge companies to head into the right direction. At the end of the day, we all have to interoperate with each other one way or the other, at some level.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


    5. Luke Chamberlin

      Branch is invite-only during a beta period, which is not the same thing as being exclusive as a part of your business model.And while I’m not a fan of how Twitter has been handling changes to their API, there is a big difference between exclusivity with 3rd party developers and exclusivity with the general public.I’m calling bullshit on your bullshit bullshit calling.

      1. William Mougayar

        But I believe we were discussing the situation mostly which is where most of Anil’s post centered around.

  11. kskobac

    I think exclusion is an issue, but I’m still also concerned with the seeming reality that free leads to a business relationship that is based on the “customer” (advertisers) being different than the “user” (consumers), a relationship that doesn’t sustain the right innovation once the race for users to sell to advertisers is over. Something like isn’t an effort to exclude people, it’s an effort to find a business model than incentivizes innovation and execution correctly. It may have poor side-effects that need to be addressed (I certainly think so), but it’s worth trying because as move into a more long-run phase of social platforms we’re finding there could be major problems with the incentive system we have set up now in most cases. That said, there are definitely other options, like freemium, which I continue to wish Twitter would try – upselling pro-features and reducing limitations.

    1. William Mougayar

      I’m with you on what is trying to do. Well said.

    2. JimHirshfield

      You’re not wrong. But there’s no doubt that charging for anything is exclusionary in nature. Not everybody can afford it or feels that it’s worth what’s being charged, whether that’s a web service or the latest Batman movie.I’m not arguing for removal of capitalism. Just sayin’ that’s life.

      1. awaldstein

        Charging for something once you understand it’s value is one of life’s great business pleasures.The struggle is not charging. The challenge is discovering the market price of value.

        1. JimHirshfield


        2. LE

          “life’s great business pleasures.”Better than sex. Seriously. Understanding value is something you learn at an early age by pricing things that you sell and seeing what the market will bear as you alter the pricing.To many times with pricing people simply follow the lead of what others do instead of starting from scratch and coming up with their own ideas of what people or companies might pay given the value to the end buyer (which is easier but won’t always result in the highest profit).

        3. Carl Rahn Griffith


      2. ShanaC

        This reminds me of the last mile issue – do we subsidize access to technologies even if we charge for them for the social good?

    3. andyidsinga

      ive been thinking similar things about …i did support it though because i wanted to support the experiment and im curious about how they’ll work through the side effects that arise.

    4. fredwilson

      you could also charge the developer community via paid APIs that would allow the users to have a free experience and not require advertising. charging users isn’t the only way to avoid ads

      1. falicon

        In my personal opinion this is the route will end up going…and I think it’s a pretty horrible option.Partially for personal reasons (being a developer and all)…but mostly because it’s going to be a sure-fire way for a lot of developers to go broke just as they are starting to gain skills and fansie. developers who build a potential hit/useful tool, but don’t yet have the service at a revenue generating level or have quit enough traction to gain proper backing…it’s a large gap that is *very* easy to fall into (especially for 1st timers).

        1. fredwilson

          yup, that’s the argument against it. i’ve had this discussion many times and i’ve yet to see any company really go in this direction

          1. falicon

            Twillio is there…and in my opinion, is the gold standard if you are going to go in that direction.I also feel obligated to state that I really like Twillio, and I have had a million use cases where I would like to integrate Twillio throughout various projects I’ve done…but because of the associated costs, it’s almost always landed on a ‘to be added at a later date, when revenue allows’ list.So not a bad approach, or a bad business…it just changes what can and will be done with it (especially around inovation and early stage ideas/projects)…

          2. fredwilson

            yup. but i have yet to see a consumer app do this.

          3. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          4. falicon

            None. I just meant that they get lower adoption because of the associated costs…but as you point out adoption is not a problem for them right now.

      2. kskobac

        totally agree – i’m sure won’t succeed long term unless it opens up and finds other ways to monetize. I think there’s a market for users to get free access to the websites / mobile web, but have to pay to be able to use 3rd party apps at all (something like what Spotify does, but not just to use the company’s app, to be able to log-in to your account on any 3rd party app). I want to be able to pay Twitter to let me use my Twitter account on Flipboard & Tweetbot (presuming they will both lose out eventually in the API aftermath).

  12. Anne Libby

    I looked at early on, saw the avatars displayed to show “here’s who’s joining”…none were women.I still have my $50.

    1. ShanaC

      Weirdly, that makes me want to buy a subscription.

      1. Anne Libby

        Really, why is that?

        1. ShanaC

          I get kicks out of a F*** the patriarchy kind of attitude. I don’t mind being an outsider and watching to a very insider place. I tend to think it is a fun challenge, instead.



  13. Joe B

    Sounds like a contradiction to read a VC rooting for ‘free’ when their ultimate good is to make money and not the greater good. Freedom is not free man.

    1. fredwilson

      free is a great way to get paidi wrote a post with that title (or something close) about five or six years agoi can’t find it sadly right nowbut it is out there somewhere

  14. jason wright

    Access…and choice.

  15. Paraic Hegarty

    Anil’s post itself, and another 2 blog posts be cites in it basically call racist and sexist because of the type of people signing up to it. I don’t believe they have any control over the demographics of who signs up for the service. Having a $50 fee is not being “a country club” – it’s having a different business model to twitter. Dalton Caldwell is building as an exemplar of a different business model to twitter and should be applauded for that. Suggestions of exclusivity, racism and sexism on behalf of are bullshit and should be called as such.

    1. William Mougayar

      Exactly. is an experiment focused on promoting innovation around a very open API-driven ecosystem.

    2. fredwilson

      this post was not about i’ve written about that before. it was about the broader experience i am seeing on many of the new services that are launching. i didn’t mention any of them by name on purpose

  16. JamesHRH

    I applaud your statement of personal philosophy.I would happily pay for a better version of the internet, at times. I don’t think that makes me a country club snob.I am more surprised by how hard it is for a better version of the internet to exist. Maybe Steve Jobs is UNDERrated.

  17. Dan Lewis

    Regarding reddit:”Noisy and messy” creates exclusivity of a different kind, and of a better kind. It means that a high-level participant needs to learn how the system works in order the thrive. Reddit sends out this odd feeling — like it is foreign to outsiders — because of how noisy and messy it is. (If you need proof of that, ask yourself why the word “reddit” in your post is a hyperlink. We all know what reddit is — you’d have to be unless you’re living under a digital rock — but it’s something separate and distinct from your world.)Wikipedia was the same way for a long time and still kind of is, at least from the view of editing it. MetaFilter, FARK, and a lot of the older social news sites, same thing. If you didn’t take the time to learn the software and the culture, the fact that they’re otherwise entirely inclusive is a non-issue.I’m willing to bet that a lot of these services’ successes are because of the noise and mess.

    1. ShanaC

      On reddit:Community there is very subreddit driven. And there are problems (and solutions) in some of the subreddits, especially as different subreddits cross over into each other. Reddit actually reminds me of an academic description of brownstone brooklyn – location matters far less than the communities you were part of and how they crossed over into each other.In allowing the internet to mimic that sort of behavior, reddit is brilliant.

    2. fredwilson

      totally agree

  18. falicon

    I think both Medium and Branch are interesting products to be thinking about…in many ways I think they are hitting around an idea I call ‘distributed hubs’ (a theme very core to my own project/thinking lately).I define distributed hubs as a collection of content loosely connected around a common theme, living organically wherever the content creators prefer to hang out (and produce content).Long term, I don’t think it’s as much about exclusivity as it is about self-association. What group, or attributes, do you want your content, thinking, and conversations to be associated with? What common threads exist across that group? How do you keep the quality up, the conversation going, and stay on topic as much as possible?Answers to all of these questions are part of the path to true ‘topical knowledge aggregation’.So I don’t think it’s intended to be exclusive (though I can see the argument that it’s current version may be), but rather each group is attempting to initially set the bar to entry high enough to ensure quality…and over time, the tools and the process for self-selecting into those groups will come for those that are willing/interested in getting involved.

  19. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    One’s noise may be someone else’s signal.It is all about resonance … when a noise resonates with another noise ( it becomes a signal).For a guy who cuts wood in the deep amazon forest … MBA Mondays may be a noise … but for AVCers it is one of the strongest signal that binds them.I do keep coming to AVC because and only because I do resonant with many of the comments written and the posts written here … either it is a new learning or the voice in my head is being written by someone else.Resonance it is.

    1. falicon

      “the voice in my head is being written by someone else” … that is gold! Love it.

      1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        the above @RedRookDigital:disqus comment is the proof.

    2. Wavelengths

      I like the wavelengths here.

    3. ShanaC

      Creating resonance is difficult – the openness required to get everyone in tune, gahhhh

  20. John Best

    I think the drive towards exclusivity is natural. You can make it explicit – by putting velvet rope on the entrance, or it can develop naturally – sub cliques form, with their own culture, values and language.Even in the most open of communities, people will cluster round a particular commonality. I doubt this is a conscious attempt to exclude people, but rather to discover their personal signal amongst the noise. However, for outsiders this becomes exclusive, they don’t share the same ideals and become one “versus” many. Engagement is thereby lessened.Communities work when they are either exclusive at the outset, or have so many threads of commonality that newcomers can find a group to accept and be accepted by. I’d actually put AVC in the first category. not because it deliberately excludes, but because it contains some pretty weighty and specialised content. The community has aggregated around that. Something like Reddit is the other end, they have so many threads and interest groups that anyone can belong.I can’t say I’m in favour of creating a deliberately exclusive group whose (potentially only) commonality is that they have $50 disposable income they want to throw away. seems like they want the large community with many threads model, but are deliberately self-limiting. I think they’ll hit their maximum size quite quickly.To use the country club analogy – you can have a club open to all, but you’ll find it occasionally being fully booked by schools, social groups etc. or you can charge at the door, then you’ll only get one type of customer – the one that doesn’t want to mix with schoolkids or social club members.

    1. falicon

      Great stuff. Agree on all fronts.

    2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      when going through your comment … just remembered the dialogue from i-Robot … “Why is it that when robots are stored in an empty space, they will group together, rather than stand alone?”…Clustering is a human behavior … whether for good or bad. Being alone is scary for human mind.I completely agree with ‘drive towards exclusivity is natural’.

      1. ShanaC

        Note that we like to group objects – we see the human in everything.

  21. JimHirshfield

    Noticeably absent in my opinion is where I think this exclusivity comes from. I think it’s merely marketing. It’s the Costco model in the early days. Limit the access to a specific audience, create false exclusivity, and that in turn creates demand.I’m not saying the exclusivity is cool; it’s not. But I don’t think it’s created out of a sense of privilege or trying to keep out undesirables. IOW, it’s marketing with the unintended consequences of feeling elitist.And I suppose one could argue that’s a marketing #fail.

    1. falicon


    2. ShanaC

      Really good products will naturally induce this – think the failwhale. Artificial communities tend to almost always have back doors.

  22. AlexBangash

    Very thought provoking and philosophical post. I wonder if it applies equally to a) communities as marketplaces b) communities where trust is involved. I do think all forums should be inclusive. And you are exceedingly gracious to let folks pitch you deals and services likes private jets on AVC blog.In communities as marketplaces, sometime members of offline communities refuse to join online communities if there are no members from the same tribe. Worse, they refuse to join, if there are low quality members or “posers”.Elance and 99designs have vibrant communities, but I think have had trouble attracting highest qualities designers and providers. I wonder if Kaggle and other marketplaces will have similar issues.As a counter example, Craigslist is a messy community and can yield high quality effectively though with inconsistent results.In communities where trust is involved, invariably users have to be forked and credentialed. Couchsurfing one of the most vibrant communities online communities which, while broad, still verifies its users in various ways. It’s hard to find a host if you do not have references and friends.

    1. fredwilson

      marketplaces are fascinating communities to study. i am not an expert on them but i am getting there

  23. Noneya Bizness

    I for one am totally guilt of typing up a long blog and hitting publish only to think of gems I should’ve dropped within that blog 5 mins AFTER posting it.

  24. RichardF

    By encouraging inclusivity I think you are increasing your chances of serendipity occuring. Which when those moments do occur are some of the best discoveries for me. Whether that be a connection with a person or discovery of something that interests me.As far as what or any other service is trying to do, they are tinkering around the edges of what has already been created in social networking so far.Facebook and to a lesser degree Twitter have won the status/update war in a closed system for the moment. Sure something else may come along for a while but eventually we’ll have an open network with the ability to create a single identity that is as easy as setting up an email address and porting that identity to any number of “hosting providers” either paid or “free” that provides your own personal social network.

      1. RichardF

        lol, funny Carl

  25. thinkdisruptive

    You can allow anyone to participate, but to create value, there still needs to be a price of entry. Inclusive may be a nice ideal, but practically speaking, does it ever work that way? Fred, you support Freemium as a model, but isn’t the paid upgrade that subsidizes the rest exclusive by definition?

    1. fredwilson

      not a price of entry. but there does need to be a price somewhere.

      1. thinkdisruptive

        which restricts usage (makes it exclusive).



  26. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    It amazes me the level of strong emotions that elicits in some people. As others have mentioned below – it is an experiment to determine whether open API is worth paying for. I am generally pro-inclusive but there are instances of social networks that perhaps are better to have a filter or some type of exclusive features. For instance, education and health are two areas where I want some selection or verification on who is providing content. Also, in the world of scientific publishing there is a lot of ongoing discussion to fix the review system which is ridiculously slow – see this link for an excellent article. One of the ideas is to publish first and review later – this should be inclusive but perhaps you need to introduce some exclusive elements to improve the signal

    1. fredwilson

      i would be happier to see it the developers pay for the openness. not the users.

      1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

        I am guessing that it is developers that are paying for now – I will become a happy paying consumer if they show me that they got the number and product to back it up. BTW congrats on your action figure 🙂

  27. Ciaran

    I agree with much of what he says, along with this post which he quotes (…The irony of that being posted on Medium, which is, whilst free, also at least partially exclusive, is, I assume, intended.

  28. marccanter

    I totally agree with Anil on many of the assumptions and statement he makes – but speaking of calling one’s bullshit – this reminds me of an encounter I had with Anil – oh it must be like three years ago.Anil was in the position to get cash from MacArthur foundation and he goes to Wash D.C. – recruits Gina Tripani and starts one of those (Tim O’Reilly terms piss me off) “Gov 2.0” efforts. (sic!)I had just left Silly valley and moved to – (of all places) – Cleveland to figure out how to create on-line jobs for normal people. So I’m thinking to myself “wow! This is fantastic! Anil has access to the White House – SURELY he’ll understand what we’re trying to do and he’ll help us get funding to create our system.Oooops – I was completely wrong!When I contacted Anil and told him what we were trying to do – he told me “we’re not interested in Jobs” – we’re going to focus on [insert some silly social whateverthehell – which of course once he spent all the MacArthur money – gets shut down and then he’s off flitting around – like true Silicon valleyiers do.]So now Anil is some bigshot – whateverthehell – and he’s talking about inclusivity and….BUT WAIT!What about on-line jobs for normal people? Anil is talking abut blogging and letting “women” and all those other poor unfortunate NON-insiders into their exclusive boy’s club and he’s STILL ignoring the REAL people. Those who DON’T benefit from the Open web.Those who have email accounts and waste their time on Facebook and Zynga yet will NEVER become programmers (as much as I love Doug Rushkoff’s notions.)How many waitresses and cabdrivers (who have college degrees and are stuck in this downward spiral we call our economy) care about the issues which Anil raises?To create on-line jobs for normal people:a) this notion of inclusivity and expansion of our focus and establishment of a fair and equitable world – has to be applied to JOBS and making moneyb) folks have to realize that a tech jobs is more than just programming. On-line education, workforce training, project-based economy, part-time work – CAN all be made available to returning vets, baby boomers, moms returning to work (after raising the kids.) Yes youth – but alas all those unfortunate folks where ageism has shunted them aside – despite their 30+ years experience at life and work.)c) insiders like Anil and yes – even Fred Wilson need to lead the way. I’m just some schmuck has-been, nobody living in Cleveland. But ANIL DASH – well he’s one of our leaders – right?I’ve brought this issue up of ageism before – here on this blog and Fred insists he doesn’t partake in such practices. I buy that. Fred reminds me of Jeff Daniels’ Republican characters on “The Newsroom” – well intentioned, good people Republicans.But JOBS is an issue we ALL have to help out on!I’m not talking VC investments here – I’m talking about those folks who’ll NEVER get VC money. Who just want to make a living, whether its as an independent worker or small little project. yes we’ll have crowd sourcing – but this is something that has to reverberate throughout our economy – throughout our industry!Why aren’t we focused on creating WORK and helping those LAID-OFF, under-employed, WORKERS find a way to make a living, put food on their table and a roof over their heads? I’m puzzled how this entire issue gets COMPLETELY IGNORED?At the end of the day – I appreciate blogging and expressing your opinion and the so-called social web and conversations blah blah blah – but when you’re broke and out of a job – who cares?THAT’s the real inclusivity we need to be talking about.IMHO

    1. pointsnfigures

      Funny, at a forum in Chicago, I said a similar thing. We were talking about investing in scalable companies in the midwest. But I brought up the point that its very important to decrease the costs and regulation around starting up a lifestyle business. Lifestyle businesses support the scalable entrepreneurs. In Chicago, because of the back room payoffs, all the regulations etc, it is very difficult for a lifestyle entrepreneur to start up a business. That non-college educated person that can start a donut shop and make a living will teach their families good practices, educate them and perhaps create the next round of scalable entrepreneurs.Not a lot of people liked my comment. But we can’t be focused on just creating great ecosystems for start ups. We need to be focused on creating great ecosystems for everyone.

      1. marccanter

        RIGHT ON SIR! The range of jobs circumnavigates our entire universe. From “lifestyle” and mini-entrepreneurial efforts, to hyper-local business directories and marketplaces – the BENEFITS of on-line technology need to be seen by “normal” people before they’ll think of their laptops as anything more as a time wasting device.The hardest thing to identifying a way to MOTIVATE people – to get them “coming back” over and over again – to develop the skill sets that all of “us” (certainly Anil and Fred) take for granted.This new kind of “attitude” needs to permeate throughout normal people’s mentality. Its a new culture. A new way of thinking about jobs, tools and making a living.

        1. andyidsinga

          re latops being more than time 29 year old step son moved in with us this summer – he was a stone mason for ~10 years till construction went to shit. since then he has had a terrible time with staying working.its a struggle – he wants to learn to program ive been helping him a little with that ..and so has codecademy!Recently he got a job at a local manufacturing company where he is actually building something from a successful kickstarter project ..they are training him on a laser engraving machine and want to send him to classes too.things are getting better …the online world is going to have a profound affect on real, not tech people and jobs ..its starting to happen now!take care

          1. ShanaC

            you make me very hopeful

          2. andyidsinga

            I’m very hopeful too 🙂 The laser engraving on the back of the object says “machined in oregon”The best part is that he’s totally getting motivated – he was proud of the work he’d done – and that is hugely hopeful thing 🙂

          3. marccanter

            Part of the thinking we need to develop is that on-line jobs don’t HAVE to be programming! There’s LOTS of other stuff one can do – to get paid. I’ll spare yah the details (unless you WANT to know….)

          4. andyidsinga

            absolutely – I couldn’t agree more.

          5. LE

            “he was a stone mason for ~10 years till construction went to shit.””he wants to learn to program ive been helping him a little with that”Let me state the obvious and ask why he doesn’t try to do some handyman or other work which he has skills in (or could more easily develop) instead of tackling programing? I don’t know the community he lives in (and hence how typical the demand is there) but if it’s anything like what I’ve seen in places I’ve lived over the years there are plenty of ways to start small by doing things people need on the side which he has the requisite skills. Or could more easily learn. Programming is digital and requires precision. Trade labor is analog and there is more room for error and a less sophisticated “employer” hanging over your shoulder.Getting the skills by using codeacademy or any other typical methods and expecting to learn enough to get a paid job in programming (and once again I don’t know him in particular I am going with a generalization here) would be quite difficult and not exactly low hanging fruit.”a terrible time with staying working”Why he needs to work for himself where he can hustle and get a steady stream of work.

          6. andyidsinga

            I appreciate your comment LE and those are fair observations.The reality of the situation is complex at human level – and getting motivated is a tough nut to crack. I’ve found motivating people (family in my case) to be an incredibly difficult task. I can’t seem to do it via pep-talks or direct orders. I’ve only been [partially] successful though indirect means: patience, 1:1 chatting, helping with $ only in the right areas ..and then giving praise when good things happen.He’s the one who wants to learn programming – so I’m being supportive, but also keeping him realistic on the skill level required before an entry level gig will open up. I think he’s got programming aptitude buried in there somewhere – so I’m cautiously optimistic :)The manufacturing gig he got is quite nice – mostly low tech stuff but might lead to some high level programming (CNC etc) . Its something he was able to start without much skill ..but has a future that requires more and more skill.Re: working for himself …nope – that’s my other step-son – he’s 26 and owns his own subway restaurant and employs a bunch of people ..and on the side is building some serious skills on the BBQ. (dont even ask why one son doesnt hire the other )

      2. fredwilson

        i am a big fan of lifestyle businesses and my wife and i invest in them, mostly here in NYC where we can be patrons of them

    2. Wavelengths

      When I was in Detroit several years ago, the mayor spoke of 50% unemployment, a statistic which few mayors would care to state.From my street-level observations, some of those unemployed, intelligent, blue-collar workers were turning to Facebook as something that kept them in a social environment and off the streets and “out of the pool halls.” I’m talking truck drivers here, along with the much broader demographics.How much does it cost to catch, convict, and house someone when they’ve done something judged as a criminal act. We have an extensive, and expensive, system designed to keep people in line, but nothing to allow them to survive with dignity when jobs may simply not exist. (Or haven’t been invented yet by the entrepreneurial types.)I am reminded of Jean Valjean, protagonist of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. This is what Hugo said in his preface:”So long as there shall exist, by reason of law and custom, a social condemnation, which, in the face of civilization, artificially creates hells on earth, and complicates a destiny that is divine, with human fatality; so long as the three problems of the age—the degradation of man by poverty, the ruin of women by starvation, and the dwarfing of childhood by physical and spiritual night—are not solved; so long as, in certain regions, social asphyxia shall be possible; in other words, and from a yet more extended point of view, so long as ignorance and misery remain on earth, books like this cannot be useless.”Could there be an environment that simply supported people who were willing to spend time online? And stay out of trouble?

      1. marccanter

        Hanging out on-line is a means to an end. Instead of just “wasting” your time watching YouTubes and playing in Facebook – our educational methodology attempts to gets workers thinking about wikis, Google Apps and other on-line tools – as their next generation hammer or screwdriver.Then we clue them into the intangibles of this culture of independence, how to run your own on-line business, helping others and in general – thinking about open, free and share. These are unknown concepts out in the “real” world.”Volunteerism is usually sneered at or thought of as some bottomless pit of “goodey-good” attempts at getting into heaven. Whether you call it “freemium”, crowd sourcing or user generated content – we show folks how to play the game and succeed in a future workforce which will demand these skill sets.We try to balance altruism with a for-profit model which I think gets turned into my second billion dollar company.We utilize points and paid internships to motivate our trainees and we pair up Professional and Under-employed college grads – with our Interns – to create a “socially conscious team approach” which permeates this knowledge and attitude about this new kind of workforce culture” – down the workforce “pyramid” to as many of the “best and brightest” we can find. Cause that’s who we’re focused on. This CAN’T be a “leave-no-child-behind” approach.We have to train these folks to be trainers and create a new generation of leaders who will go into the Union Halls, churches and community centers and recruit others “like them” to ALSO get a clue.But it all has to be done in an open, distributed manner. NO one vendor. NO one solution. A WHOLE BUNCH of different implementations, interpretations and deployments – so we won’t get accused of being a cult or fad. This is about making MONEY – and once we start talking about an ROI model which will……Well let me stop here. Now I’m sounding like I’m pitching Fred – again.

        1. Wavelengths

          I like what you are saying.

          1. marccanter

            Video training series Day One:…Lesson Plan and Notes for that Day One class:…Prezi of “How to build an Ecosystem”:…First draft of a book “Five days in the life of a Digital City program”:…Here’s what I presented to the Sloan School Fellows – (class of ’12):…Here’s the :10 Biz Plan pitch (finals of the KC Gigabit Challenge):…Looking for supporters, introductions and help in any way. Angel cash greatly appreciated. BTW we were turned down by Kickstarter. So much for the boy’s club!

      2. ShanaC

        Hanging out digitally can cause as much as trouble as hanging out physically. In fact, I wonder if it can cause more trouble, since ideas spread so much more easily online than say, a beer hall.

        1. Wavelengths

          Well, yes, but I wasn’t thinking about those who’d be throwing digital Molotov cocktails. Rather those who’d be sipping beer, maybe dancing to the local band. 🙂

          1. ShanaC

            And that is so bad? I think we should be doing more of sipping beer and dancing personally.(fyi: for those curious, the german interwar references are because I’m listening to 3penny opera, the original with Brecht singing Mack the Knife…)

          2. Wavelengths

            Maybe drinking some of that “Arrogant Bastard Ale”?

          3. ShanaC

            More like wishing I was a techie-artist hybrid in berlin (one who recreates brechtian cabarets, or haunts them)I really want to move to berlin for some reason….

          4. marccanter

            yawohl – Berlin is awesome – and a great place to participate in a “digital economy ecosystem.”

          5. ShanaC

            i’m jobhunting, got leads?

          6. marccanter

            Ask my old friend “Raju Bitter” <[email protected]>He’ll figure out what’s right for you and introduce you “to the scene.” Just tell him I sent you.:-)

          7. ShanaC

            shoot me an email? shana dot carp at gmail

          8. ShanaC

            smart move

          9. marccanter

            teaching folks to even REALIZE they can organize, converse and interact – is what I’m saying. Just keep in mind that cabdriver or waitress and that retired guy. All these folks know how to use email and browse Facebook – they just don’t think of their laptops as anything to make money with…..Cocktails, beer or chicken sandwiches – doesn’t really matter – as long as their are paying customers or a barter system in place – o exchange value.

          10. Wavelengths

            Yes, and I think it hasn’t been fully imagined yet. But maybe soon.

        2. laurie kalmanson

          important point. a tool can be used for good or not good.

          1. ShanaC

            I have funny political ideas – Good is more complicated than it appears on the surface, and one needs to be careful that one isn’t using good as a way to be conservative about ones ideas.

          2. marccanter

            totally agreed – and in our world view – some will succeed, some will turn evil and some just contribute to the ecosystem.

          3. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Tools don’t kill people. People do.

        3. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Keyboard Warriors love the anonymity afforded by being online.Facebook, and how many kids (and some adults) exist there really troubles me. I rarely use it nowadays, it seems an utterly depressing and shallow place. The farcical IPO is the least of our worries when compared to how some people inhabit that space – it’s become like a Second Life but without the avatars, etc.So many words and emotions have been decanted into the online world – how many of them reflect empathy/positivity vs hate/negativity, I sometimes wonder…

          1. ShanaC

            This assumes the next big social change will come from keyboard warriorsI think there is value in facebook – but that is just me. I find it easier to connect with people there sometimes than twitter (that Might be because of my twitter usuage)

    3. ShanaC

      I will follow your revolution. I think you’re right, and I think one of the issues we’re seeing is a political and social inability to move to your way of thinking. And I don’t understand why we are like that at all.Maybe it is my calendar, the people I talk to outside of this site, my own feelings about my life, but if we don’t move in your direction (and even if we do) we’re going to see major social upheaval of the kind seen in Wiemar

      1. marccanter

        yes and change is hard. That’s why its easy for Anil and his type to work on public participation and feedback in the legislative & policy process – and never even think twice about creating jobs – which AREN’T programming jobs!

        1. ShanaC

          creating jobs is hard – I mean what causes them to come into existence? You need a need for that work

          1. marccanter

            Here’s how we parse it:- working for us – as a trainer, video help operator, program manager, office, tech or logistics – about 10% of all jobs we create- working on projects – whether they be programming, on-line multimedia or media production in general – as many as 30% of our jobs. These projects will get paid for by local sponsors who are spending their on-line marketing dollars “socially consciously.” They create jobs, they get a tax writeoff AND they get their “message out there.” Some of these projects will also be paid for as ‘viral marketing campaigns’ where nationwide brands hire us – to get access to our ‘authentic local relationships’ with citizens and business vendors. Exactly what GroupOn CAN’T offer.- working on local biz directories, local on-line marketplaces- supporting the local community (orgs, churches, individuals) – these folks get paid in a myriad of fashions – and will make up another 30% of our jobs.- another 20% of our workers – will become independent, free agents – participating in the open marketplace – whether its off of ODesk, eLance and Craigslist. This is where our Kansas City experts, research assts, office workers, p-t personal assts, book keepers, project managers and other kinds of on-line tasks – will be “offered to the world.” Or maybe these are the Jamaican Diaspora. Or the Irish diaspora.- finally 10% of our jobs will come from our efforts to create startups – and work with local incubators, accelerators at marketing these firms, providing them with talent and making sure that EVERYBODY gets a shot at the brass ring. Our startups will NOT seek VC funding – they’ll learn about bootstrapping, bartering, hussling any way they can – to get over. That’s teh culture we’ll be teaching.

          2. ShanaC

            what is placement like post?

        2. Anil Dash

          Marc, again: You have no idea what I do, or what I work on. You speak authoritatively though you have no knowledge. I spent last weekend working on helping a new restaurant in my neighborhood get off the ground, so that skilled food workers can get jobs with higher pay and better benefits, just a few minutes’ walk from Tompkins Square Park. And I did my honest best on my turn making food, even though I’m not good at it, since I *don’t* want to be someone like you who sits in academia criticizing others while being completely ineffective.Insulting me doesn’t help you or your goals, and it’s not persuading anybody to get off their asses and do something. It sure isn’t creating jobs. You repeatedly insult me and my values and the work I do, but if you’re doing something so amazing, how come we don’t have any example of your job-creating success to learn from?

          1. kidmercury

            hahhahaha……brutal diss here. def siding with anil in this beef

    4. Anil Dash

      Actually, Marc, you’ve ranted about this for years now, and my answer’s been consistent: Our goals at Expert Labs were to encourage public participation and feedback in the legislative & policy process. You seemed to not understand that, and wanted us to be focused on something other than what our charter was as a non-profit.I’m sorry you don’t get that, but just as the Red Cross isn’t focused on JOBS and the ASPCA isn’t focused on JOBS and the Sunlight Foundation isn’t focused on JOBS, sometimes people solve other problems. Fortunately, I’ve also founded some other companies (Activate, ThinkUp), which directly and indirectly have provided dozens of jobs.Meanwhile, you’ve ranted on the internet and hired zero people. You don’t actually know how I’ve helped people, but are content to malign my work and my intentions. Please understand: People don’t ignore your words because of ageism or geocentrism (though those are of course real, and serious, issues). They dismiss you because you’re a boor, and you’re wildly unpersuasive.When you make people less willing to engage in discussion around issues they were inclined to help with, it’s worth taking a look at yourself and your tactics. I won’t be condescended to as if I’m some powerful insider by a guy who was a millionaire and sold a successful startup when I was still in junior high school. You’ve got plenty of access yourself, Marc, and could be a powerful advocate if you made your efforts more about your goals and less about yourself.

      1. marccanter

        Indeed the Red Cross AREN’T interested in creating jobs. And neither is the Sunlight Foundation or MacArthur or ASPCA. Now what’s wrong with that statement?I might be the boor but at least I’m thinking of folks who AREN’T the boy’s club. Isn’t that what this thread is about?You’re actually sitting there still missing what I’ve said! What I asked you was “Hey Anil – why AREN’T you focused on jobs?” All you’re doing is attacking me – but what you haven’t done is answered the question.You can take your kid to Thompkins Square park, swing him on the swing – and just happen to miss the homeless and under-employed stand all around you.All I’m saying – and what I’ll continue to say – whether you like it or not – is that people in YOUR position need to get this conversation about JOBS – out into the public view and especially into our industry’s view!No – this is NOT about “public participation and feedback in the legislative & policy process.” That sounds like a politician speaking. I’m focused on things that are accountable and mean real things like a paycheck.Votes are real – for sure – but so is MoveOn’orgs coffers. So is the money you took to hire “programmers” to work on ‘citizen engagement. Great – but who’s the diletante – now?You can justify spending money on hiring programmers to create – whatever – and indeed those are jobs. But what about everyone else?BTW I’ve now taught over 100 interns – and all of them we PAID!

        1. ShanaC

          The Thompkins Square Park mention is just funny – the riots there were heavily class involved.

        2. fredwilson

          that’s true but why is Anil’s fault and not everyone in the tech industry’s fault? i think you are making a mistake by singling him out

          1. ShanaC

            It might be his involvement in washington – as soon as you get involved in politics, you effectively create enemies.

      2. Pete Griffiths

        Anil – I don’t know you or Marc and I can well understand you feeling stung by him calling you out. I don’t have the faintest idea how justified it is or isn’t. But it feels to me as if your response crossed a line.His remarks weren’t personal, but calling someone a ‘boor’ is. For all I know you are absolutely right but…

        1. Anil Dash

          I’d argue that his saying I don’t care about people not having jobs *is* personal, but as I explained to Shana above, I was responding more to his pattern of harassment over the past few years than to his specific words here. I’ll be more considered going forward, and thanks for the perspective.

          1. Pete Griffiths

            Thanks Anil. I don’t mean to be overly ‘mannered.’ I’m boorish myself. 🙂

      3. ShanaC

        While he shouldn’t have brought you up, calling him a boor just is a bit out of line. Makes it hard to have a conversation if we all decided to do that, you know

        1. Anil Dash

          Shana, your point’s well taken. For background (as explanation, not justification), Marc’s done this kind of thing on my personal Facebook page and on more than a dozen other conversations about my work over the last few years. It’s a pattern of harassment that I’m reacting to, not just his words here. But it is incumbent on me to be better, and I appreciate the reminder.

          1. ShanaC

            I have no control what happens on facebook . I also can’t verify either of your stories independently of each other, and frankly, the background doesn’t concern me as much as the point about “jobs development” vs “web segregation and white flight” – which is a discussion worth talking about in context of the post.*sigh* – I know you’re the UN special envoy on social media – you’re going to get flack by just being in politics, especially when economics is going to play a huge role in this US election (as a jobhunter as well as moderator here, I can tell you that on a personal level). I’m not in any way surprised this is happening, because it is a hotbutton issue.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            “Marc’s done this kind of thing on my personal Facebook page…”Are you friends?

      4. PhilipSugar

        I give you props for responding, if you look at my history here as soon as things go political here, I check out. but I do not think calling somebody a boor is out of line.Politicians can not create jobs. Programs cannot create jobs.I have argued for 20 years (I can prove this….ask the Senators from DE) that I believe business owners should get a direct tax credits for the Social Security Matching, Healthcare and Retirement Contributions that they make in the U.S. Screw carried interest, capital gains etc, care about what you pay employees that the government doesn’t have to.And if you saw a comment I made before, one of the reasons I will never do anything political is because I worry about haters just wanting to hate.Best regards.

    5. Matt A. Myers

      Why the majority of leaders don’t? The answer is pretty easy – there’s no huge money to be made doing that, unless you want to divide your time, which isn’t necessarily possible to do unless you align your interests to allow such a thing.

      1. marccanter

        the balance between altruism and for-profit is something I’d like to see more entrepreneurs make. I won’t preach here – but it would be nice if folks saw our industry not JUST as a way to make money.Our model has an exit ROI baked in. I think smart entrepreneurs will figure out ways to help the world AND make money!

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Our industry is a weird one – like no other, I’d suggest.And that is not a compliment.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            I think it’s all industries.Capitalism is good to create innovation, however it’s not perfect as there are certain things business just isn’t incentivized to do.There needs to be i) destruction of certain patents that are deemed too useful to society (add that as a well-known risk to any patents that are applied for), and ii) internet infrastructure and tools/functionality that is subsidized by the people.It all falls back to measuring productivity based on GPI instead of GDP. GDP only cares about money, GPI cares about people too; Genuine Progress Index (it has a newer name that I dislike).

        2. Matt A. Myers

          It depends on the founder(s) and if they want to make a $100+ million exit and sell to some bigger controlled ecosystem that’s trying to maintain status quo, or make a much smaller amount on an annual basis.The problem is there’s not much money, other than say Kickstarter et al, where you can get monetary resources needed to scale things other than places/VCs/etc that essentially require you to have exit ROI baked in, as you stated. This is the biggest problem in this area.There are lots of people who want to do good things for the sake of them helping others, however it costs money to scale and there really aren’t many organizations that will provide the funding needed without wanting a significant return – mostly due to risks.I wonder if I will purely use Kickstarter-like methods to fundraise all of the monies needed. I shall see.

        3. andyidsinga

          I loved this interview by Fast Company with the 37signals guy Jason Fried – I want to start a business someday that lives that long-term philosophy:

    6. fredwilson

      hi Marci really appreciate the comparison to Will McAvoy. except that I’m not a republican and don’t plan on becoming one. that is not a diss on all the republicans in this community. but i’m not in their camp.i agree that we need to create more good jobs and not everyone is going to be a programmer.but i also don’t know that Anil ever said that is what he was going to Washington to do. I am not sure it’s a fair shot to take at him

    7. kidmercury

      i can’t believe this comment is being upvoted so much…..i exercised a downvote here. fred and anil or anyone else don’t need to do anything they don’t want to and don’t need to lead anything they don’t want to lead. if YOU want to do it then YOU can lead by example.your goals are admirable though i find your demonizing to be a needless distraction that taints the merits of your aspirations. consider inspiring instead of demonizing.

    8. Luke Chamberlin

      1) Waitresses and cabdrivers will never be able to do their jobs online. I hope we can agree on that.2) Jobs are based on the needs of the industry, not the needs of the people (i.e. “I need a job”). Jobs fill gaps. Where are the gaps, and who pays to fill them?3) Craigslist is full of “work online, no experience necessary, make good $$$” ads and they are mostly scams. There is a reason they are mostly scams.

      1. marccanter

        Luke I’m gonna officially disagree with you – on all fronts. I don’t know you or have any context of your background or professions, but let me say I’ve been working on this – as long as the Internet has been in existence.We’re taking Macro-economic concepts and deploying in a micro-economic way. Let me be specific:1) Indeed Craigslist is a syspool of scammers – but many many people- NOT in Silly Valley or NYC rely upon it for finding talent. In Europe, Asia – all over the world. Your statement says to me – you don’t really believe in any other kind of on-line jobs – besides programming and marketing bimbo.See some of my earlier responses for specific kinds of jobs.Would you pay $40 to have someone do some research for you? Right now – I bet there are 1,000 accelerator, VC funded plays trying to automate something like that – which any entrepreneur should know can’t be automated. Intimate, close, personalized, relevant info – found – on-demand in a timely manner. I’m NOT talking about Mechanical Turk, or some sort of digital sweat shop, I’m talking about that recent college grad who HASN’T been able to find steady work. She’d love to go track something down in an hour or two for you. For $40. Same thing goes with booking travel, doing your books or arranging for events. Its a thriving business out there in Silly Valley, LA and NYC. So we believe that folks – on the HYPER-LOCAL level – will jump at an opportunity to hire local concierge services – CHEAP – which currently is ONLY available in SF, Chicago, LA, NYC or Boston via expensive personal assts, etc.2) I used to be a cabdriver AND waiter dude. Everybody starts at the bottom except for rich kids and programming geniuses. Again a pretty condescending statement by you. I know a LOT of incredibly talented folks stuck in dead-end jobs – grossly under utilized. You got a problem with them pulling themselves up?Motivation, responsibility and trust are the cornerstones of what we’ll be teaching. That can appear from ANY age group or constituency. What about folks who worked 40 years and were fired or forced to retire? We’re totally losing those valuable resources from our community!Many people never get a CHANCE to show off their “stuff.” That’s what we want to give them – an opportunity to shine. We vet these trainees, force them to prove themselves and then throw them into the ‘deep end’ – to see who floats.3) And as far as jobs being filled by needs – yes. So we’ll create new needs. Many many companies NOT in the echo chamber are just NOW discovering on-line marketing. And you know what that looks like in Cleveland or Kansas city or wherever? GroupOn. Living Social. So these folks give that a try and guess what?they lose money, they get ripped off and they’re dying to find AUTHENTIC local relationships – with LOCAL people to do LOCAL marketing campaigns – on-line. GroupOn really sucks at that – and they’re helping a whole new generation of folks ot step up and take over – with GREAT deals and campaigns.I personally believe that “socially conscious” investing will personify itself with sponsors paying for games, apps, visualizations, simulations, videos – the whole gamut – but they’ll ONLY spend the money on local talent and resources. Those are the folks who will be putting many of our graduates – to work!Call me crazy – but that’s what keeps me going. My own delusional dreams – which just MAY come true!eg. we will CREATE the need for hiring our people. And we’ll make that a local PR and marketing issue! support our recently trained workers!Hire a local to make a video!aMERICA FOR aMERICAN bORN aNIMATORS!

        1. Luke Chamberlin

          I didn’t say that a cabdriver can’t get a different job, I said that they’ll never be able to do their job online (i.e. drive people around the city). Same with waiter / waitress and a host of other service jobs that require real people in the real world.

  29. kirklove

    As Kid said in his comment. Exclusivity is lame, but Niche has merit. The web is moving that way. As open platforms become too large and ungainly it has to move toward that. Even using Reddit you can see it has to funnel itself to niches with subreddits.

    1. fredwilson

      i totally agree. i agree with the Kid almost all the time. but not all the time.

  30. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    This topic of exclusivity vs inclusivity also extends in the offline world. For instance, museums in the UK are free to all for visiting while in U.S and Canada you pay and is usually not cheap. You can argue that such places should be inclusive to all members of society and not only to those who can afford the luxury of paying for museum visit. Inclusivity in this matter will bring inclusive benefits to society

    1. ShanaC

      One of the facts that I am most thankful in my life is that at least the Met can be free. Because culture is important.Europe subsidizes culture to a much greater degree than the US

  31. Arkadiusz Dymalski

    Starting a revolution requires the masses. And how can you engage the masses to do something? By creating the desire. That’s where “Rule of scarcity” works very fine. I believe that’s the reason for starting with some exclusivity (think Quora, Google+, Instagram or even new iPhone launches). It’s simple marketing trick.

  32. INQUE

    Very true. I also think that they will not succeed. As Marco Arment writes about First, $50 per year is far too much, even for people who pay for things. Twitter probably couldn’t sell a lot of paid subscriptions at that rate.But the bigger problem is that I just don’t see a social platform growing quickly enough to overcome the network-effect barrier when it’s not free to join, especially when the goal is effectively to replace an existing, free, extremely successful network.The nature of the network effect probably means that general-purpose social communication services must be free in order to ever grow to a significant size. This is even more true when there’s an established free competitor.… Also many people say they would pay like $3 or so a month to support Twitter, why not just offer that as Instapaper does with $1 a month and keep the service free? No voices would be excluded as long as paid members do not get immense bonuses with whatever.

    1. laurie kalmanson

      the wall st journal is the model for a successful pay wallmotivated audience wants targeted content

      1. LE

        “wall st journal is the model for a successful pay wall”Huge running start. Also paid for by companies as a business expense creates the extra “cheddar” which allows them to hit the dartboard.That said it’s based on afaik primarily demand for the print paper which I subscribe to. It’s really become a general interest paper it’s changed greatly over the years. As the population ages they could fall from grace. It really doesn’t have the must read content it had, say, 10 or 20 years ago. My wife reads it [1] and finds it interesting. It’s really morphed quite a bit.[1] She is not a business person.

        1. laurie kalmanson

          nothing lasts forever

  33. ceonyc

    I think it’s more of a marketing problem than anything. Every publication, even yours, has some level of exclusivity. I can’t just submit a blog post to AVC if I wanted to. You’re the editor. I think of stuff like Branch as potentially a group edited conversation–so instead of Business Insider having a 1:1, or like the Kedrosky-Graham one the Economist did, now there’s at least a path to get into that conversation. Branch is more open than the Economist. I think the problem is how they seeded the conversation–with people who already have followings, with an exclusive invitation request system, and with a PR message that talks about exclusivity. They could have positioned the software itself as an open conversation platform or the best place to have a conversation, but I think they did a lot to alienate people who didn’t already have big followings–the 99.9999%.

    1. ShanaC

      You’d be surprised at how low the standards are – and how they’ve gotten even lower in publishing because of price pressures.Branch seems to complicated and pointless. The best conversations are where you get opposing points of view – branch, by focusing on exclusivity, naturally closes out that possibility.

    2. fredwilson

      great point. i was offended too and i have a big following.

  34. Sangeet Paul Choudary

    I agree, increased participation and community driven curation has given us the most from the internet. Frankly, if you’re not getting enough signal out of the product, you’re either not using it right (happens with many twitter users when they indiscriminately go ona following spree) or there is a fundamental problem with the tools of curation. This problem isn’t solved by blocking things at the entrypoint itself.BARRIERS TO CONTRIBUTION, NOT BARRIERS TO CONTRIBUTORSLook at Quora and StackOverflow and how they’ve completely disrupted forums. Q&A is about answers, not content and they implemented that. They create barriers to contribution, not barriers to contributors. And that is how you fundamentally solve the problem. Allow everyone to contribute but bake some guidelines into the system. Dribbble has a restriction on type and size of design you upload to ease navigation. But it doesn’t restrict people.BUILD CULTURE, NOT EXCLUSIVITYSignal extraction has moved from being an editorial task to an algorithmic task to an algorithmic-cum-community task. Let the community manage the restrictions. The key is to build a strong culture from the beginning. Look at Reddit. A community that builds culture becomes organically exclusive as misfits are weeded out. Synthetic exclusivity is just antithetical to what the web stands for, IMHO.I write often about communities and platforms at and have further thoughts there

  35. sprugman

    I’m basically in the “these experiments are good” camp, especially for’s “the user shouldn’t be the product” idea, but I can’t resist posting this:

  36. sprugman

    Also, aren’t we confusing “early beta” with “exclusivity” here?

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Beta is the new Alpha Male, it seems.

    2. fredwilson

      maybe. but not in all cases.

  37. LE which Anil mentions:”An invite-only network of people who strive to produce great content. We focus on three things: the writing, the news, and the ideas. Everything else is a distraction.” svbtle? (which anil mentions) well that’s the worst fucking name for something that I’ve come across in a long time.Here’s some background on svbtle:…Subtle is the result of what happens when someone’s brain is to evolved in one area and not enough in other areas.

  38. ShanaC

    Maybe because my life has been shaped by feeling like a liminal outsider to many “exclusive” communities (including here at times) – exclusivity is a false construct. Usually it is as much a conservative reaction to some sort of “idealized” state of being about how the world works.Let’s put it this way: I’m not finding tons of new ideas out there in techland. Take something simple like the privacy and bigdata debates in advertising – There are way too many assumptions about the reasons why people do what they do, how they think of privacy, etc.Same with clean energy – if you read policy wonk stuff, you get the feeling that the answer is largely “known” already.I want to see more liminal figures participate – that is where the interesting stuff happens.(which reminds me, I should write more, if just to vent about these sorts of ideas :/)

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Good stuff, Shana.Ironically, I have taken the plunge and started to ‘write more’ – in the form of a simple Tumblr blog, for now. After years of being somewhat cynical of blogging for mere mortals like me. Feels kind of awkward at the moment – 2 days in, lol – let’s see how it goes.Look forward to your ‘venting’ 😉

      1. ShanaC

        we’ll see if I can make the time

  39. Emil Sotirov

    I’ve already said that before – it’s high time for someone to start a Harvard-only social network – again. No, seriously… 🙂

  40. Matt A. Myers

    Inclusivity is an interesting thing. Our own view of inclusivity will have own our biases attached to it.And people attempting to join community will not stay, and not feel included, if they are not comfortable with the people or how they interact – and therefore it will feel more inclusive to a community’s current members than it might actually be. And of course those more involved in a community will feel more apart of it too, whereas if interaction never propogates responses then that person will not feel included; It mimics being picked last for say group sports when selecting teams.Reddit is inclusive if you’re more liberal than not, and this is the side that the community formed on the spectrum of strong dichotomy created from what is denoted as popular content via voting up or voting down of the content there.

  41. howardlindzon

    I will always argue this one just to argue. Free creates insane community pressures that once VC’s come into the picture to fund, generally destroy it. Yes as an early investor it makes sense, but over the long-term (more than 5 years) whats the ratio of startups using open and free versus ones that failed that create longlasting great communities.I do believe the community has to be involved but there is no right answer. There is definitely a right answer for YOU as you have proved it.

    1. Dale Allyn

      I agree, Howard. The answer is “it depends”.

    2. fredwilson

      google is free. has that created insane pressures that has destroyed it?

      1. howardlindzon

        Not at all, but they are an outlier and not a community. They are tools. People can call me dirty jew on twitter and not be kicked off, but if they give out my email that I give out myself, they could be kicked off.Granted I love twitter so i know what I have to put up with to be a publisher and get the audience that they provide.

  42. RudyC

    First off, I’m back and I’m sorry if I offended anyone esp. Trullia guy…guess that is/was a sensitive topic 4 me. I think the first thing is what is truly free? I think you can start the conversation but saying what is free? As far I know the only thing that is truly free, is the love you have 4 your children and oxygen, although they already tried oxygen bars here in Cali..everything else has a cost, though sometimes it hard to distinguish what that cost is….

  43. hypermark

    To me, the rants against a service like are a total false dichotomy, a premise (not) ironically pushed by some of the biggest industry insiders.  The way I see it, is a knee jerk response to twitter, once the all time inclusive service, pulling a bait and switch on developers, and becoming exclusive. In other words, there’s an entire ecosystem that’s been kicked out of its former community center, and needs “somewhere” where they’re still welcome. It just so happens that has positioned themselves as the developer friendly alternative to the twitter country club, NOT that there is specific enthusiasm to trade one barrier for another. That Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook or even Yahoo have failed to read the tea leaves, and seize this opportunity is beyond me. 

    1. kidmercury

      i don’t think the others have failed — especially amazon, who i think totally gets it. the problem is that “developer friendly ecosystem” is not something objective; it’s highly subjective., if it grows, is going to run into issues that make many developers upset. they will be extra upset because they paid $50. platforms need to express their values so that they attract like-minded participants (users, businesses, developers, etc.)

      1. hypermark

        I agree that this is not a binary thing, but it’s also not something that can’t pass a simple sniff test. Developers pretty much universally agree that twitter abandoned their ecosystem (and ethos), for example.That’s not to say that won’t run into the same issues, or sacrifice the exact same precepts if they start to feel like an incumbent, which isn’t the same as saying that the problem isn’t solvable or worth solving.My point specific to Amazon, et al. is that: a) twitter has effectively disrupted their own ecosystem; b) it’s a domain for which there is considerable developer pull, and; c) history suggests that he who snares the developers achieves market and fiscal success (Microsoft during PC era; Apple during post PC era; Amazon with cloud and merchants; Google with advertisers and Android).Put another way, should there be a company wanting to acquire a large developer ecosystem, there is a (relatively) low-bar path for doing so. Moreover, the basic 140-character payload and what you do with it is not cold fusion — i.e., people do not universally love twitter’s native clients, web site, trending algorithms, etc; they just love the tweet + ubiquity.

  44. Pete Griffiths

    It’s an interesting piece.I have one observation and a question.1) The observation – an online environment that is focused on the social graph rather then an interest graph relies much more heavily on the network effect and for this reason may have a very different launch strategy. Specifically, in the attempt to benefit from network effects early it may deliberately create an exclusivity. Good examples include Facebook (Harvard->Ivy League ->colleges ->schools -> the cosmos) and Yelp (city -> city) Contrast this with Pinterest. In this latter case the individual user can derive benefit from an electronic pin board and as is typical with such a product offering value irrespective of social effects it grew extremely fast. Social/network effects came later. The point is that in a world that is saturated with social networks to have a degree of exclusivity may well be the only viable strategy unless your offering has something really really novel. Interest group based startups can, and should, be much more open from the outset.2) the question – If social environments starts with some degree of exclusivity does this have an irrevocable effect? Anil suggests it does:”…there’s an aesthetic and editorial sensibility that permeates any defined online community that is almost always inherited from its earliest dominant users, and once it’s established, it’s almost impossible to change.”But is this true. Has Facebook been so conditioned by Ivy Leaguers that school kids and grandmothers have not changed it? I am prepared to believe that there are important elements of its culture (eg extreme openness, aversion to privacy…) that were so occasioned, and perhaps the new users have just adapted to this early culture to some degree? But it does not feel to me that one billion users have had no meaningful influence on something started at Harvard.The reason these points matter is that they bear directly on whether someone’s launch strategy really is creating a country club forever. Is there a danger? Possibly. But my suspicion is that the concern is way overrated.

  45. Akira Hirai

    It’s human nature to covet what we can’t have. Facebook was initially only available to those with an email address. Used properly, exclusivity can be a powerful tool for launching and growing brands. Obviously, exclusivity doesn’t scale – but that fork in the road is a first-world problem.

  46. Techman

    It is nice to have a community here that moderates itself. Give trusted members special moderator rights, and with good use of that power you barely have to lift a finger to moderate. Most of the comments that are bad in your terms get nuked before you might even notice it.Good policy.

  47. Tom Labus

    These companies are all “open” when they start because they need you but when there is cash involved it becomes a different story.That seems to be a common thread.

  48. Eric Leebow

    Exclusivity helps networks grow. You can narrow your niche market, and go after it, rather than saying you’re completely open to anyone, growing out of a vertical market adds value. It’s kind of similar to how some have private beta, yet it could be an “exclusive beta” concept. If you had a website for VCs, or exclusive to entrepreneurs, the groups feel more connected. People are connected in groups. If it’s a “free” exclusive club, there’s a higher likelihood of strength in community than a paid. It may not inspire you, yet it does connect you better, as you know in an exclusive community that everyone has the same umbrella over their head. Even though many networking communities do not have exclusivity, they felt that way in the beginning because they were filled with a certain audience. There are studies where exclusivity scaled, later after being more inclusive.

  49. leigh

    we were just talking about this today. the amount of work arounds we are doing for some key digital properties and social networks bc of their exclusive (aka stupid) policies are insane. They are built to not work from an ecosystem perspective. The joke is they each believe themselves to BE an ecosystem even as they create policies that are antithetical.No worries from all of us however. We do find work arounds and the precious dollars they count on from advertisers happen to go through us. And we are fickle as hell and have really really long memories.

  50. Jon Har

    Fred, is there any way you can run for President with a purely digital platform? Seriously. You need to lead this country.

    1. fredwilson

      i can’t even lead my family!

  51. Travis J. Todd

    Facebook was a country club.

  52. Dave W Baldwin

    Today’s (Sept.5) post goes with this one.@ShanaC:disqus – the group behavior metaphor is something that extends back to the beginning and moving forward (not exclusive to human). Attempts at “herding” are fascinating.@ccrystle:disqus – per your “in the wings”, if what I think you’re working on is right, go for it.(rest of comment not focused on Shana or Charlie) All of the references to “Country Club” in the comments make me laugh. If you have something that someone will pay $50 per year, you’ll charge ’em for it… simple. If you build a graph that only caters to some subject that 99.9% find absolutely boring, they won’t come.Too much “us/them”.

  53. Aziz Poonawalla

    Maybe what we need to do is to throw out the old paradigm of discussion as “post-comment” and instead try to merge those categories. I argue that we should try to move in a direction that blurs the line between a “post” and it’s “discussion” and embraces folksonomy as the core principle. See:

  54. ShanaC

    @disqus (if you can see this).

  55. fredwilson

    i agree. that may be possible with disqus 2012’s reputation system. let me ask.

  56. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    it is never too early for beer 🙂

  57. JimHirshfield

    But how to find them? Oh, wait, we have a bunch of comments here at AVC related to that post over there. Your point has been proven.

  58. ShanaC

    Just doing my job 🙂

  59. marccanter

    The money of Cleveland is not going to change. Anil’s efforts are well intended, but if you look at the air and focus of his article – it sure sounds like “a pot calling the kettle black.”Anil’s idea of normal, excluded people – are those poor women who can’t get invites. Coolio – but still insider-y if you ask me!

  60. JimHirshfield

    Too many apps, not enough time. (sigh)