Products like Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Zynga, Instagram, and Twitter are the new television — they’re designed to turn our brains to mush by constantly giving us more worthless content to be distracted by — photos of cute cats, pins of houses I’ll never own, tweets from some celebrity whom I apparently adore, some stupid game designed to make me anxious. These companies take us away from our lives, distracting us at dinner, keeping us in bed longer in the mornings, removing us from our family and friends.
Yet these companies are the poster children of today’s startup scene — most investors and entrepreneurs want to find the next Instagram or the next Pinterest, the next service that will have crazy engagement, distracting the consumer even more. This is the bubble we’re in — the bubble of distraction, where startup value is a function of engagement instead of revenue, where creating value for the consumer comes second to distracting them.
The new funding bubble we’re in is terrifying. Given where we are now, our future will inevitably become what was predicted in Wall-E: overweight, disconnected individuals who care about nothing but to consume more and more digital content, meanwhile becoming less creative, less individual, and more overweight.
I’m an entrepreneur and a frothy funding market is good for me for obvious reasons. However, I’d still rather see this bubble burst to return us back to creating value. The real champions of the startup scene are the Redfins, Atlassians, Clouderas, WibiDatas, Amazons — the people who are selling a product or service that customers pay for because of the value it brings them. I’m tired of hearing about investments being made in the next distraction. I want to see investments being made in the creation of value.