AGLOCO is already making the rounds in the blogosphere. I agree with Mike Arrington that it looks like a bad idea repackaged. If they came up with this name, it's a bad sign. Liz Gannes points out we've seen this very idea before, as an infomediary called AllAdvantage.com. At VentureBeat, Matt MarshallSaying a company has eight Stanford MBAs is like saying your cow is better than others because it has eight anuses, two for each stomach! thinks folks will "hold their nose and take the money," which assumes people are simply incapable of figuring out they can do better with less sacrifice of their privacy.
Social media fact:Customers are smarter than they are given credit for. Offering discounts and, perhaps, stock, is not sufficient, nay, not even necessary, if you facilitate important social functions without turning the customer's data into a corporate asset. Jakob Nielsen made all the arguments against AGLOCO in his Downsides of Participation Inequality essay a couple months back.
AGLOCO is a reiteration of AllAdvantage.com, a site that paid Web surfers for personal information The impending doom hanging over the company, I think, is encapsulated in this paragraph from VentureBeat:
This AGLOCO team is intriguing. Eight Stanford MBAs have joined, which is unprecedented. Many Stanford MBAs join companies before they graduate, but not a grouping this big, and especially not at a time when VCs and other companies are poaching MBAs more than they have in the past. They’re bringing fresh, eager blood to their wise but chastened forefathers who launched AllAdvantage.
Don't get me wrong. One can build a social network with a robust economic system, but it doesn't take eight MBAs and a founding team of 15—the very definition of an environment in which design and operating principles are built by committee. Saying a company has eight Stanford MBAs is, to me—based on looking back at other revolutionary marketers such as Sam Walton, Costco's Jim Sinegal, FedEx's Fred Smith and many others—like saying your cow is better than others because it has eight anuses, two for each stomach!
MBAs generally eliminate ideas in favor of ideology, as the much-talked about very mangled peanut-butter manifesto, by Yahoo SVP and Harvard MBA Brad Garlinghouse, a document rife with buzzwords, shows. At least, if you are going to appropriate a Tolkien reference, have the good taste not to turn butter spread too thin into peanut butter, then say "I hate peanut butter," when the point of the image from Bilbo Baggins is that life is wearing out.
Social networks needs some soul, not just a business school pedigree. Simply offering deals for personal data does not solve the biggest problem facing the would-be member of a social network, who seeks better connections with the world rather than just more data and a few bucks.
We're moving into a stage of network development in which quality of relationships substantially outweighs traffic and transaction volume, because people are beginning to recognize how much intangible value their relationships produce. They're not going to give away those intimate facets of themselves for a four-percent discount at Amazon, no matter what a spreadsheet says.