The Onion – The Power Of Selling Out: Your Customers As Political Capital

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The Onion – The Power Of Selling Out: Your Customers As Political Capital

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[The Onion – The Power Of Selling Out: Your Customers As Political Capital]

[Nathan Eslinger (Ripple):] Source: LYBIO.net
I’m going to talk about how to adapt to your idea taking on a life of its own. In 2006, my friends and I started a photo sharing site called Ripple. We designed this site for American college students, but its ease of use and anonymity made it popular with Chinese dissidents. Before long the users took the site in directions we had never imagined. We were forced to adapt. We had a new features, and stronger encryption, in order to meet their needs, our traffic skyrocketed. And we became an important symbol of Chinese resistance. That’s when we got a call from the Chinese government. Now they obviously wanted to get into the site, find and punish the user base that we had grown organically. We realize that we’re being asked to betray the people who made our site what it was and we thought this is an incredible opportunity.

Building an audience is only half the battle. In order to monetize your work, you need to monetize your audience and figure out who you can sell them to, advertisers or a monolithic buyout firm, or in our case, a repressive government. Now working against the very cause of freedom is something that you need to approach very delicately. Your users won’t always understand just how much economic sense it makes to sell them out, and you don’t want to alienate them. That would drive down their value. What you buyers are going to be looking for is a broad complacent user base prime to be blindsided by sudden privacy policy changes or repressive investigations.

[Nathan Eslinger (Ripple):] Source: LYBIO.net
We felt that putting our users in mortal danger for a quick buck was the right move. But it wasn’t until we did the math that we’re really convinced. We’re making a profit of the site with advertising, but compared to how much we could earn per user who would end up in a miserable Chinese prison, it was a no-brainer. That’s what I mean by adapting to your idea.

We never thought we’d become a form to express dissatisfaction with the Chinese government. But once we did, we cater to our users, and we were in awe of what they were able to create. And we certainly never thought that we’d get the opportunity to then give up all those users to the secret police. But we approached that opportunity in the same way, by betraying every single artist, student, and intellectual who had ever put their trust in us.

If we began with that goal, the dissidents would have never signed up. But by adapting our ideals later, we were able to profit immensely. Now the most difficult part was that we had to let our project go. We have put a lot of work into Ripple. But when it came time to hand over all of our code, as well as all of our spreadsheets meticulously tracking our users whereabouts, home addresses and their family to a government who would do those people harm, we knew we couldn’t hesitate because there was no guarantee that we have an opportunity like this again.

[Nathan Eslinger (Ripple):] Source: LYBIO.net
My colleagues and I now have lucrative consulting positions with the Chinese government, and we’re helping them leverage technology to crush dissent. And we’re hoping to develop a new platform that would trick millions of Chinese teenagers into revealing their anti-government views. And it’s all thanks to selling out. Thank you.

The Onion - The Power Of Selling Out: Your Customers As Political Capital

The Onion – The Power Of Selling Out: Your Customers As Political Capital

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The Onion – The Power Of Selling Out: Your Customers As Political Capital. I started a photo sharing site called Ripple. Complete Full Transcript, Dialogue, Remarks, Saying, Quotes, Words And Text.

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