A collection of humorous tools that generate buzzword compliant business models.
Web Economy Bullshit Generators
At about the same time 37Signals launched with a manifesto and the e-NORMICOM parody site of the dotcom branding process for naming, logos, and taglines.
Then Stavros the WonderChicken (@wonderchicken)–no I cannot find his real name–did the “Web 2.0 Bullshit Generator™” noting that “Profits for your Web 2.0 company are not guaranteed.” It’s funny how that has not changed with firms like Box and Dropbox competing in some oddly configured on-line potlatch designed to provided services at a loss in exchange for new investment at ever increasing valuations.
Andrew Wooldridge launched Web Two Point Oh! to help with naming as well.
Parodies of Web 2.0 Business Models
Stavros later lamented in “Lomans not Shamans” at what the Web had become: “My god, it’s full of ads!” Here I think his anxiety was misplaced: most new media is advertising supported; the original newspapers were simply classified ads that gradually added news items to differentiate themselves. Stavros references “What Puts the ‘2’ in Web 2.0” by Brandon Schauer who was inspired by “Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software(2005)” by Tim O’Reilly and John Batelle. They followed up in 2009 at the Web 2.0 Summit with “Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On” (see also the white paper: “Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On” [PDF]).
Next in 2010 the Lunatech Ventures team launches PlanCruncher as an attempt to compress a business plan into a single page using a couple icons. From their About Page:
“Plan Cruncher creates a standard one-page summary of a business plan for a start-up company that is looking for external investment. You do this by choosing icons that represent some of the standard answers that a business plan must provide.
Why investors want entrepreneurs to use Plan Cruncher: Plan Cruncher saves investors’ time. To investors, business plans all look more or less the same, which is not necessarily a bad thing, and they are always too long, which is. Before an investor decides to wade into your ten or twenty-page document, he wants straight answers to a few basic questions about your plan.
Plan Cruncher generates a standard one-page summary that investors can use to screen business plans and compare them to each other.”
I don’t believe Plan Cruncher is a parody site, I listed in in my roundup of Business Model Canvas tools.
And in 2012 Norman Clarke (@compay) has launched Bullshit 3.0: Bleeding Edge Bullshit Generation in the Cloud which embeds the ability to launch a Google search for your tagline to see if it’s already real.
Strategy Statement MadLibs
Alexander Fiore offers what may be either high value strategic consulting or unintentional parody in his HBR blog post “How To Execute a 15 Word Strategy” [Registration Required]
Once upon a time there was (insert a name who exemplifies your target customer/consumer) …. . Every day he/she (insert here his/her frustration or job to be done) …. . One day we developed (insert here the product/solution and what are actually the 2-3 things we offer or not) … . Until finally (insert here the end result for the customer/consumer compared to competition) … .
The most recent example is Simon Wardley’s “A Quick Route to Building a Strategy” which is purely a parody.
Our strategy is [..]. We will lead a [..] effort of the market through our use of [..] and [..] to build a [..]. By being both [..] and [..], our [..] approach will drive [..] throughout the organisation. Synergies between our [..] and [..] will enable us to capture the upside by becoming [..] in a [..] world. These transformations combined with [..] due to our [..] will create a [..] through [..] and [..].
Wardley’s template has been implemented by Bill West as a web tool at http://strategy-madlibs.herokuapp.com/ Reload the page to get a new strategy. West might be able to charge for a version of Fiore’s.
Clue Train is Not Bullshit
I still find the 1999 Clue Train Manifesto a useful guide to marketing: it’s argument for real conversation between individuals is as compelling now as it was 15 years ago. Business models have changed with the advent of new technologies and many of these sites are parodying two real needs that every entrepreneur must satisfy: a succinct and comprehensible explanation of their product benefits to customers and a compelling description of their business model to investors.