Caius Preposterous was a Roman economist who lived around 50 B.C. Gaul was entirely occupied by Roman forces except for a tiny village which held out against the might of Rome. The noble exploits of this man are sadly preserved only within that noted historical tome “Obelix and Co.” Charged with bringing the village to its heels Preposterous cleverly concocts an economic plan instead of the usual military strategy. He would flood the village with the corrupting power of money and use greed to crush the little village.
It mattered little that he was buying a worthless item viz. menhirs, from the Gauls but then again when has the product ever mattered? You shout loud enough about your product, snap a few ad campaigns and voila, a new sensation is born! Preposterous was one of the first people to recognize the power of the greater fool. Sadly no one could have predicted the dastardly cut price actions of the Roman and Egyptian menhir makers and coupled with Caesar’s completely unreasonable impatience, just like that, a brilliant plan was snuffed out. The Gauls went back to hunting boars and hitting each other.
One wonders if the business icons of today, the Zuckerbergs, the Kalanicks etc studied Preposterous. In these times of easy money, there’s always a fool out there somewhere. Be the first, have a snazzy name, don’t advertise (its the new advertising) and wait for your tipping point. One can’t blame them really. As senator Clay Davis of Baltimore famously said, “Sheeit, I take any motherfucker’s money if he givin’ it away!”
Valuations are at all time highs. Debt is as good as cash. Credit spreads are at unreasonable lows. There isn’t any need for off balance sheet shenanigans to find cash any more. After all Joe everyman is just giving it away for free. And if you’re in Silicon Valley, you my friend have just hit pay dirt. No earnings? No cash flows? No tangible evidence of monetisation? Have a lot of users? Great! Here’s a billion! Oh and take another 17 while you’re at it won’t you? Its easy to give away what’s free isn’t it? Make hay while it lasts. Last call is coming up.