Michael Gale: Fraud in Silicon Valley

Fortune Magazine just released the January 2017 edition with the article “The Ugly Unethical Underside of Silicon Valley”  which is one of the better pieces on the increasing problem of fraud in the venture backed pressure cooker of Silicon Valley startups. It posits that its almost impossible for entrepreneurs to raise money and forge success without making over inflated claims of success and customer traction and in fact just lying.

I have said for a long time that my experience in advising entrepreneurs has taught me that if when you first meet a young entrepreneur looking for help with VC funding if you told them the truth about the process and the time required none of them would work with you. In the end that’s why I don’t do it any more. It was impossible to work sensibly with venture capital seeking entrepreneurs because they did not want to hear about building real plans, getting traction and thinking about fundamentals. All the competing messages were that you just “fast launch” and make it up as you go along. Literally nobody wants to hear from old timers like me that you can’t just have an idea and some coders and go for it and then say whatever it takes to become a Unicorn. And THEY ARE RIGHT. I am completely wrong. The winners are the ones that make it up and drive a fashion wave through investors. Its crazy but the VC corner of Silicon Valley doesn’t really have a lot to do any more with actually making successful companies that create technology that adds value. Its like a vast game of musical chairs to pass the buck on the latest sexy company to the greater fools. Hence companies of no real substance become worth a billion dollars overnight and vaporize just as quickly.

Michael Gale: Fake news and other online fraud

Just re-ordering this post

Michael Gale

The fake news controversy that arose after the 2016 US Presidential election is the first time the issue of the reliability of news disseminated online has become a mainstream talking point. But the issue has been around for a long time.

There has always been a cultural bias in most societies in favor of the written word. The cost of creating the written word and the ability to trace a publisher of a physical item has previously meant that false claims were made less rashly and were easier to combat. Sustained fraud needed the broad concurrence of many members of society and the government. Of course this happened a great deal and still does. When I was growing up what we read and learnt about Russia, China, Cuba etc was mostly propaganda.

But an article about an individual member of society was less likely to be fabricated though certainly prejudice could be…

View original post 238 more words

Michael Gale: Who is really guilty in the killing of Trayvon Martin?

In my view the answer is clearly the State of Florida. The sad thing in this case is it will now all get caught up on whether or not George Zimmerman is guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin and was it racially motivated. That is important, particularly to Trayvon’s family and obviously to the black population […]

via Who is really guilty in the killing of Trayvon Martin? — Michael Gale’s Blog

Michael Gale: Fake news and other online fraud

The fake news controversy that arose after the 2016 US Presidential election is the first time the issue of the reliability of news disseminated online has become a mainstream talking point. But the issue has been around for a long time.

There has always been a cultural bias in most societies in favor of the written word. The cost of creating the written word and the ability to trace a publisher of a physical item has previously meant that false claims were made less rashly and were easier to combat. Sustained fraud needed the broad concurrence of many members of society and the government. Of course this happened a great deal and still does. When I was growing up what we read and learnt about Russia, China, Cuba etc was mostly propaganda.

But an article about an individual member of society was less likely to be fabricated though certainly prejudice could be reinforced easily. As a young adult I was privy to a number of political events in Australia when I knew first hand what the actions, views and words of people were and then in the newspaper some entirely different set of points was published.

It turns out that as a society what we report and repeat about others tends to focus on the sensationalism and forwardability of the message less than the truth. This has probably been true from long before The Scarlet Letter.

So actually fake news, cyberbullying and defamation sites like http://www.ripoffreport.com and http://www.complaintsboard.com are not some horrible new phenomenon they are just digital superchargers of our core enjoyment of spreading bad stories about others. Our concern has always been how enjoyably salacious is the story not how true is it.

In fact almost nobody stops to question anything. Most people literally don’t click beyond the headline. So a whole bunch of businesses now make money out of precisely that. The guy behind the Ripoff Report has literally made millions by purpose building a site to spread defamation! It is customized to drive ad revenue and to entice anonymous fake posts and the behavior of people reinforces the business model.

So its fair I think to say its not an Internet and Social Media problem. Its a human nature problem. Basically if people can be anonymous they will mostly be cruel, rude and nasty. Its very sad.