Yes, I'm busy. No, I'm not rich yet.Posted on 2007/01/23 - 20:19
I wanted to write an entry here a few days ago about the horrors of HTML and CSS and how we're supposed to live without it in this world, but I ended up with absolutely zero time after I set up a front end for my home server (check it out here) since the school term is ending this week. Which means I got to study my ass off, arrange a dozen meetings, fix up some final issues related to the Intercab project, and not try to loose my head in the process. Which is why I'm writing this entry just to steam off some air.
Another thing I wanted to write about was how my dad thinks it's really easy to make bucketloads of money on the internet. And I figure I'll just do that now, since for one I don't know anything else to write, and for two I'll forget the whole discussion I had if I don't write it now. The discussion started when he was reading one of his investor magazines (he's no big-boy in investing, but he has his bunch of options like pretty much every other average dad) and there was an article about all these internet success stories. The notion that I had to make a shitload of money with a website had occured to him more often (and he had let me known in great detail) but this time he had an actual article outlining all these successful companies. Time for a discussion.
Now you have to understand one thing before we dive into this. I hate the MPAA and the RIAA. Those are those 'protective' companies which make sure you don't make any illegal copies of your movies and music, and tend to sue dead grannies the moment they have the faintest believe she might've downloaded something. Yes, I understand what standpoint they're having, but the way they're doing something about it is against every little thing that makes us humans different from animals. Plus some things even animals wouldn't do.
The companies mentioned in the article where Kazaa, YouTube, mySpace, Google and another bunch of companies like those. His argument was that I had to make something similar to this, basically set up a website with lots of advertising space, let people upload material (and provide content), sit back, relax, get rich. Right. First of all I made the little notion that once the customerbase starts growing, the site needs more support hardware-wise and software-wise, meaning that you'll spend a whole lot of time scaling stuff up. And those servers and bandwidth aren't cheap either, which means some kind of investor needs to dump a bag of gold on the doormat in the first place. No, a bank won't do, a bank wants to see businessplan and "let the customers do it" isn't one of those.
But more importantly, letting people upload their 'own' stuff means that they start tossing popular stuff online, stuff that people usually have to pay hard earned bucks for. Movies and music for example. Which means the MPAA and RIAA and other companies will start suing my ass off. Just like it happened to KaZaa, YouTube, mySpace, etc. And a whole lot of others like Napster who *didn't* end up rich. The only reason those companies where succesful was because they where sold to another company before they got sued. Meaning the original designers aren't responsible anymore before the juridical system could smash them to pieces.
And then my dad said the absurdest thing I had ever heard. It was morally okay to do this. Yes, it's illegal, but you're not responsible for stealing other people's music because you didn't personally upload it. I'm not a lawyer, but I believe you at least end up with some of the responsibility because you enabled them to commit the crime. But I just couldn't convince him that I didn't want to have the risk of enabling millions of people to commit a crime, then fail to sell this flawed business model, and then get sued into oblivion. Since there are litteraly hundreds of these kinds of companies out there, and only a dozen or so succesful ones, he figured I had to do this as well. I'm sorry, but I think it's not okay to do such a thing. Even if I could get away with it. If I wanted to get rich the dirty way, I might as well start selling cocaine. Avoid the risk of not selling right from the start. But no, apparently that was in my dad's view not morally acceptable. Whatever.
You might've noticed one little company name I mentioned earlier. It was google. They didn't share illegal stuff, and weren't sued (at least for their original concept, I believe they're getting sued now for the buying of YouTube). But they had a really good idea, build a really good and original algorithm, and created a great company around it. That's the kind of company I'd like to start, who wouldn't? Only problem is, where do you get a great idea like that? In my dad's opinion, it'd take to long to be brilliant, and you should just pump and dump. Amazingly but true, for the first time in my life I took the same standpoint as the MPAA and the RIAA. Not for the first time in my life however it was against my dad. That's just the whole son-versus-dad thing though.
[: wacco :]