To Boldly F
Let me tell you a story.
In the 1967 movie The Graduate, a man tells our main character “one word: plastics.” In the year of our lord two thousand and fourteen, that word is replaced by two: “growth hack.”
In addition to being the emptiest buzzwords since “the cloud,” growth hacking refers—for the uninitiated—to helping your startup gain popularity through whatever methods necessary.
I want to tell you about a man. Well, “man” is probably a bit strong of a word. This man created a website, a startup. Popular these days. And he wanted to help it grow.
Growth hacking is not wrong, of course. Everyone does it, much like eating and showering (I hope).
What is wrong is how he chose to approach it. Take Exhibit A:
Now this man seems like a trustworthy, earnest bastion of truth bringing the heart-throbbing news of an acquisition—his acquisition—to the public. He hits all the right buzzwords, from being “excited” to accomplishing “a bigger vision.”
Well, until you realize this new company, Ocean, is literally the same site as HackerBracket. And our hero had been working on this site beforehand, having advertised it before—with little real success. He was, it seemed, destined to become a one hit wonder.
Determined to not let that happen, he pulled the greatest growth hack gambit of all time, posting this publicly and deleting all comments that called out the bullshit. Remember: censorship is okay when you’re growth hacking. China is just very good at growth hacking.
So he disguised a pivot as a company buying him out. He literally sold out. To himself. Which is honestly about as impressive as it is sad.
You used to be about the hacking.
He tried to pass it off as a joke once people called him out in places he couldn’t censor, of course. But guys, it’s just a joke! I was just trolling! The last defense of the weak.
Slander is a false statement undermining another. Doesn’t really apply when it’s true. And lying to promote your business is not okay.
I’m willing to believe this man makes jokes. He’s made jokes in the past, but this is blatantly different. It’s trying to pass off as real, and to what end? Commenters in the threads implored everyone to “give the kid a break,” that this kind of post was “rude.” Why can’t you just be happy for a fellow hacker?
Giving this kind of person a break is exactly why the startup community is such a shithole, and he’s no fellow of mine.
I leave you all with this.