When you are pro-war even the abortion doctors call you "baby-killer."

2004-03-24

Good work, if you can get it

Guy Kawasaki is soliciting cover art for his latest book, The Art of the Start. A How-to for start-ups I guess.

He's pretty smart in his solicitation. He is basically having tons of people send him original works from which he chooses one. The winner is to be given with a digital camera (costing only a few hundred wholesale/promotional pricing I would guess). They also get some credits on a stock photo service called iStockPhoto, which is hosting the contest (and getting tons of exposure) and a pass to some media conference (claimed to be a $499 value, which in reality costs nothing since its promotional).

So something that would probably cost a few thousand bucks (I guess, I have never written any books) normally is being funded at a significant discount, possibly even entirely paid for by the host of the contest and not the publisher of the book or the author.

And note this line on the contest page: "The winning design will also be considered for publication as the cover for Guy's new book." So the winning design may not even be used on the book. How clever. Will they take back the prizes as well if the art isn't used?

I wonder if he made any kind of investment in iStockPhoto prior to this scheme?

It's apparent the book is mostly a marketing vehicle for his start-up VC company. I'm betting there are tons of footnotes or references to his company in the book.

Damn, must be nice.

Note that I am not ripping the guy for making money, merely that this is a thinly-veiled marketing ploy to get exposure for his new book which may also drive people to his start-up funding company. This guy used to be about promoting superior products to the masses, now he's all about making money by betting on and/or exploiting potentially superior products at the expense of the masses. VCs typically own significant stakes in the companies they help to get off the ground so he's not being all that benevolent in his work. This stranglehold on start-ups can kill off good ideas with bad/overzealous management or promotion of bad ideas over good ideas by clueless managers.

Frankly my view of capitalism/entrepreneurship is to let the market find and promote products without artificial support mechanisms i.e. gov't. price fixing, VCs dumping money into worthless ideas while worthy ideas languish unnoticed.

I have had tons of ideas that did not turn into successes despite how great I thought they were and how much effort I put into them. The market has spoken in these cases. It is frustrating seeing some software that puts an animated cat on your screen that meows once in a while become a raging success while your really useful software languishes. Lesson here: never underestimate the popularity of mindless, useless software in the eyes of the teeming masses.

Update: On the submission rules page there is an interesting tidbit. You must pay $1 using BitPass, a micropayment service, which according to the sponsors list is owned or managed in some capacity by... Guy Kawasaki (the addresses are the same). This guy is brilliant, geeze.