The irony, of course, is that startups like Digg are supposed to experiment and fail often by the inevitable nature of statistics of success. In old industries like banking or automative, however, when we notice failure, albeit on a grander scale, we want the CEOs and the managers who made bad decisions to be fired, not rewarded with bonuses. Those names become public and focus of scorn in editorials and their houses are ‘visited‘ by angry tax payers.
But what happens to startup people who make serious mistakes and misjudge potentially debilitating risks to their companies and brands? What, for example, happened to the clever people who concocted Beacon for Facebook, the privacy debacle disguised as an advertising platform that comes once in a century? What happened to the folks who decided to build an architecture for Twitter that couldn’t possibly handle a real-time messaging system at global scale that nearly sank the company? Who at Yahoo thought it was a good idea to pay $5.7 billion to Broadcast.com in 1999?
Indeed, what will happen to those who thought people wouldn’t notice or didn’t care that Digg would now be appropriating link destination from original sites via DiggBar to boost up its own traffic so that it can justify the recent infusion of VC money into Digg? Digg VP John Quinn boasts that DiggBar has resulted in a 20% boost in unique visitors. Is this a time for celebration and bonuses?
The objective here isn’t individual punishment, of course. It’s a matter of ethics and transparency — all the things we’re asking of the old-line industries and our politicians — as though high-tech has a firmer grasp of our brighter future.
Are we naive or just jaded?