Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, January 02, 2021

Back in August, I registered with The Business Experiment. At that time, I wrote that I’d keep a running record of the experience, if I deemed it worthy enough.

Well… I haven’t written another word about it since. Which means that, yes, it’s not been anything worth noting, despite the theoretical promise of a “democratized” approach to company-building.

I’ve avoided posting anything about TBE, because I didn’t want to craft a bitch rant. Now that Fast Company has served up a short piece about the venture, I don’t have to. It pretty well covers why TBE (or AskSpace, which is what the idea is supposed to be rebranded as — and, tellingly, is never mentioned in the Fast Company article) is going nowhere:

[TBE creator Rob] May offered teams additional points for fleshing out a business model and a plan-but participation is still sporadic. “No one is stepping up to drive this thing,” he says. Part of the reason may be the self-editing wiki software the teams use for communications, which isn’t intuitive for most people yet. But there simply may be limits to the appeal of virtual participation-or really, of organizational democracy. “One of the biggest problems is silence,” says TBE member Sean Clauson. Unless someone has a radical idea, or strongly opposes an idea, there’s little discussion one way or the other. “In traditional organizations, you get a raised eyebrow or a nod of the head to tell you how an idea is going over. Here, we’re in a world without feedback.” Lacking cues to act on, the crowd falls into complacent groupthink.

Groupthink? You need a group in order for groupthink to occur; from what I’ve seen, there aren’t enough users regularly working on TBE for groupthink to develop.

The lack of feedback, I think, cuts both ways. I haven’t gotten anything in the way of meaningful communication from TBE. A once-a-week email that announces another round of nattering over minutae doesn’t do the trick. There has to be a compelling reason to log in, and I’ve yet to see one.

But the lack of feedback is, admittedly, a symptom of overall disengagement with the whole concept of organic startup development. I’m one of the hordes who flicked the “off” switch as soon as the goofy concept of a small-business consultancy grab-bag was voted as the idea with which to run. I have no faith in it at all. Having covered small businesses for years, I’m as sure as can be that such a service is far too nebulous for most small businesspeople to grasp, let alone seek out. This is the same sector that frequently forgoes substantial investment in advertising and marketing — essential omissions that lead to such a high rate of failure for mom-and-pop shops. Such business owners run their operations lean and mean, and paying for consulting advice will never make that cut. The amount of marketing necessary to change this mindset isn’t something that TBE will bring to bear.

Therefore, I resolved early to not devote any time to something that I felt had scant chance of success. Combine that with a broader bailout by so many other registered users, and it didn’t look like the experiment would even get off the ground, much less have a chance at either success or failure.

I’m not going to guess at what could have made this work. The site’s interface is butt-ugly and unwieldy; having to re-login every time is a definite drag. If the entire idea was more engaging, I don’t suppose that would be a barrier to participation, but it certainly hasn’t helped.

When I signed up with TBE, I idly wondered if it would truly reflect the widsom of crowds, or else mob rule. “Mob rule” was tongue-in-cheek, but meant to convey an online environment where irrationality and popular impulses ruled, unrelated to actual business sense. As it turns out, neither philosophy bore out — instead, disengaged apathy emerged.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/02/2021 06:07:49 PM
Category: Internet, Business | Permalink | Feedback (5)


pinkie
In line with a strategy that seems to call for rehashing existing brands and exhuming old ones, Coca-Cola Co. is rolling out TaB Energy next month.

The iconic brand seems to be the sole thing this new brew has in common with Coke’s original diet cola entry. Not only is it not cola-flavored, TaB Energy doesn’t even appear to contain much in the way of the standard ingredients to be found in energy drinks. If the TaB name is perceived to be the value-added part of this equation, it would be quite the historical switch-up: “TaB” was originally devised to avoid attaching the “Coca-Cola/Coke” name to what was assumed to be a niche second-tier product.

But notice the packaging of TaB Energy: A slender can with burberry-pink patterned design. Very reminiscent of Pink, the Diet Energy Drink, which I discovered on store shelves back in May. I noted at the time that this upstart beverage looked like a reborn TaB, even though it’s produced by Phoenix Global Group, a company unrelated (as far as I can tell) to Coca-Cola.

I’m thinking that someone at Coke came across Pink, and got inspired. Where the line between inspiration and rip-off lies might be a topic for another discussion. But it could put a crimp in the in-process rollout of TaB Energy.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/02/2021 04:05:26 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Food | Permalink | Feedback


quiet time
With low ticket sales and even lower mindshare so far, Newsweek’s Mark Starr wonders if the Olympic Games in Turin are doing a good enough job of selling themselves, or even if the public in Italy or elsewhere finds this February’s Olympiad particularly compelling.

I think it’s far too premature to declare Turin (or Torino) a dud. Just because there’s no overarching storyline, like Greece’s down-to-the-wire-almost-late preparations in ‘04, doesn’t mean this year’s edition lacks newsworthiness. That strikes me as purely a media professional’s concern.

There’s also something to be said for holding back on the hype. Who says Turin’s organizers have start making noise months in advance? There’s a real risk of numbing the audience with overkill. Beginning the ad blitz after the start of the new year seems reasonable enough. I’m wondering if presumptions are being made about Italian media consumption being identical to American patterns.

Besides, regardless of how many butts end up in the venue seats, Turin has already outperformed where it counts: Television ads for NBC are over 90 percent sold for a cool $900 million in revenue. In fact, Olympic ad sales are so strong that it’s speculated that they’re draining the normally robust Super Bowl ad market. With that kind of investment, you’d better believe the marketing from Olympics sponsors will amp up shortly, to the point where you won’t be able to avoid knowing that the Games are going on.

In a month’s time, I have a feeling the notion of a “stealth” Olympics will be, perhaps, wishful thinking. Winter 2006 will be as front-and-center as any other Games.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/02/2021 03:01:24 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Sports | Permalink | Feedback


dance time
Continuing my quest to provide easy, concise access to postseason dates and times (for myself, if no one else), here’s the complete NFL playoff schedule for this new year.

Hey, I already gave this treatment to the NBA and Major League Baseball; you’d better believe I’m going to mark it for a sport I actually care about. (Not to mention the NHL, when hockey’s postseason starts in a few months.)

UPDATE, 01/08/2006: Reflects determined Divisional Playoffs sites and times. (No more updates after this; times and sites should be easy enough to determine from here.)

WILD CARD ROUND

SATURDAY, JAN. 7th
National Football Conference
Washington Redskins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4:30PM EST
American Football Conference
Jacksonville Jaguars at New England Patriots, 8PM EST

SUNDAY, JAN. 8th
National Football Conference
Carolina Panthers at New York Giants, 1PM EST
American Football Conference
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals, 4:30PM EST

DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

SATURDAY, JAN. 14th
NFC
Washington Redskins at Seattle Seahawks, 4:30PM EST
AFC
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos, 8:00PM EST

SUNDAY, JAN. 15th
AFC
Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts, 1:00PM EST
NFC
Carolina Panthers at Chicago Bears, 4:30PM EST

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS

SUNDAY, JAN. 22nd
NFC
TBD, 3:00PM EST
AFC
TBD, 6:30PM EST

SUPER BOWL XL

SUNDAY, FEB. 5th
6:00pm EST

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/02/2021 11:32:00 AM
Category: Football | Permalink | Feedback


Okay, you’ve had a whole day to shake off that hangover. You ought to be in good enough shape to perform the simplest of blog/website maintenance: Updating that copyright notice, from 2005 (I would hope!) to 2006.

As Josh pointed out last year, it’s technically not required from an intellectual property standpoint. But as I pointed out, it’s as much an image thing, as significant as any other design aspect. I hate coming across those sites that still sport a “Copyright 2003″ notice; it makes me question just how much more of that site is out of date.

So bring your website into the new year!

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/02/2021 10:09:10 AM
Category: Bloggin', Media, Business | Permalink | Feedback