Anyone else scenting a familiar odor? That rancid aroma of greed, fraud, cigarettes, and overpriced cologne? It smells like 1999 to me:
Pinterest is a lovely website. It provides something the internet has never had before (virtual window shopping and muffin JPEG fetishism) in a snappy, tidy package. It’s very popular, particularly within the inscrutable Midwestern Mystery Zone, which baffles most tech companies, small and large alike. It’s aspirational picture-collecting at its most refined, and certainly could end up being the way people plan future purchases. Maybe. Someday. There’s no way to be sure.
And then there’s Snapchat, the pubescent pic-sharing app du jour, enough of a phenomenon to tilt teens away from Facebook, and a cultural spike unto itself. It’s fun! It’s a very fun, very smart, very simple toy—and there’s nothing wrong with that. The world needs things that are amusing and little else, lest we all be crushed beneath cloud services and spreadsheets. Fun is fine, and it’s certainly proven popular for Snapchat’s founders.
But these are both massive maybes bridging chasms of financial uncertainty. Maybe Pinterest will drive sales, and be able to keep a cut for itself. Maybe Snapchat will be able to turn its huge demographic reach among vulnerable young minds into revenue, and hold on to its trend status. Maybe. But that’s almost $8 billion (estimated) dollars pinned on a maybe, the sort of breathless, thoughtless speculation bubble dreams are made of. It’s $8 billion in maybe snapped against two companies that haven’t even tried to make money.
In the immortal words of Public Enemy’s Chuck D: “Here we go again….”