Truemors: a case study in new media influence?

Guy Kawasaki was the original Apple Macintosh evangelist. It’s where he started to make his name. These days he tries to devote himself to “empowering entrepreneurs.” As he puts it, “I …

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4th June 2007 at 12:26 pm

Guy Kawasaki was the original Apple Macintosh evangelist. It’s where he started to make his name. These days he tries to devote himself to “empowering entrepreneurs.” As he puts it, “I try to do this three or four times a week with my blog, one hundred times a year with my speeches, two to three times a year with Garage’s checkbook, and once every three years or so by writing a book.” Garage is his venture capital business.

So, when he decides to launch a Web 2.0 company, we all sit up and take notice. In seven and a half weeks and an expenditure of $12,107.09 ($6,091.98 according to xe.com), he kicked off his Truemors social media site. It lets anyone post a rumour, but it has to be true. Hence the name. Posters are either ‘anyone’ or ‘truemorists’ – people with site accounts. As far as I can tell, both kinds of poster give up all rights in, yet take all responsibility for, the content of their posting. The only apparent difference is that the Truemorists get to see their name in green. There may be a quid pro quo hidden somewhere but the only way to find out is to write to Kawasaki himself.

Right, the nuts and bolts. He dished out $4,500 to some software developers in Sioux City. A lot of commenters to his blog said that’s too much. But, for peace of mind, I’d say it’s not much at all. $4,824.14 went in legal fees. Again, peanuts considering the amount of backside-covering he needed to achieve. Let’s hope, for his sake, that he’s got this right.

The Ts & Cs state, “the content is unmoderated.” Yet, later, a clause states, “you are granting the Site (or any of its assignees) a perpetual, royalty-free, and irrevocable right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, sublicense, create derivative works from, transfer, and sell any such information.” Modify and adapt … hmmm. At that point it looks like moderation. In any event, it means he can potentially make shedloads without any need to recompense the original poster.

Sorry to bang on, but it shows that the legal bit is very important and worth spending the money on.

He paid $399 for a fairly dull logo, $1,115.05 on registering similar domain names (55 in all) in order to ‘surround’ his name and prevent future passing off or ripping off. He seems excessively paranoid but, being a venture capitalist, he’s probably seen the downside of lack of protection.

He doesn’t say where the rest of the money went. It doesn’t really matter.

He makes out he spent nothing on marketing but then admits that the previous 24 years of schmoozing helped. He got mentioned a few times by Mike Arrington in TechCrunch. This is a high profile place to get initial coverage. In blogging and journalism, stories cascade down the influence levels. His personal brand made sure he was noticed. This applies to everyone. Go in as high as you can and let the cascade work for you.

The Inquirer is a widely-read UK based online news channel. It covered the story – totally negatively – two days after the launch and this triggered almost a quarter of a million page views.

A week before the launch Truemors got 150 Google hits. Eleven days after the launch, it got 315,000.

New media offers huge opportunities, especially to those with established credibility who want to widen their influence. And, as you’ve seen from this story, it needn’t break the bank.

You may not like Kawasaki’s style, or even agree with his decisions, but do read his blog post and the comments if you want to understand what this new world is like and figure out if opportunity awaits you too.

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David Tebbutt is an award-winning columnist and feature writer who specialises on the subject of using software and technology to increase business productivity. He's an analyst with Freeform Dynamics but, in previous lives, wrote for Director magazine, Real Business and was also editor of Personal Computer World. http://freeformdynamics.com

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  1. Dan Schawbel says:

    I think he’s being smart and making an investment in his future and protecting himself from others trying to steal the spotlight.

  2. […] Still, take away his personal name brand and a crappy is idea is still crap, no matter what it cost to build. Aside from making a case for his personal ability to attract attention and get people to help him […]

  3. […] Tebbut writes about this on SmallBizPod.  Quite rightly he suggests you read the full Guy Kawasaki post, and all of the comments as […]

  4. ARRiiVE says:

    Hi David,

    I thought you had some interesting tidbits and analysis here. I thought the same thing about 24 years of book publishing, blogging, and making a name through Apple and Garage Ventures, that counts for a TON and is sort-of unfair to say “no promotion” – It would be like Britney Spears launching a website and saying she didn’t do any promotion. Would she have to? That said, Guy has good insight and I love his posts. I’m going to give him props at ARRiiVE’s blog (http://arriive.blogspot.com) and hope he would do the same for me. – Cheers, Scott Andrews, CEO of ARRiiVE Business Solutions (helping entrepreneurs launch businesses, improve sales, and build better teams).

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