I saw this ad for a startup recently while reading an article on entrepreneurs.
I find this type of advertising to be very distasteful.
The ad is by a social media software company in the same space as my own startup. Some might call them a competitor, but judging by this marketing message it's clear that we do not share the same goals.
As an entrepreneur I believe that our macro goal should be to make the world a better place, in whatever small way we can.
If you're making software like me, that might mean making someone's life easier.
Or enhancing their output in some way, getting them better results.
In other words, our goal should be to add value.
It should never be our goal to destroy jobs, and even worse, use this as a marketing message.
If you look at the successful SaaS companies out there, they never sought to replace the functions of a human being. Salesforce doesn't replace a salesman, it enhances a Salesman's workflow. Mailchimp doesn't replace an email marketer, it provides the means to become an email marketer.
The company that made the "fire your..." ad; who they are isn't important. I'm not going to name them, we have mutual friends, and probably some day our paths will cross. I also like to think that maybe it was just a short-term campaign they were testing out, as opposed to a fundamental core belief of the company.
But when I see things like this, I feel it's important to take a step back and think about what's important as a startup. Is it important to shock people into trying out your service? Is destroying jobs an appropriate driving force for a young company?
I think the answer is no.
I believe that long term the only thing that matters as a software company - or any startup - is if you are creating value. Improving lives. Have a purpose that's genuine.
For my own company, I recently solidified this into a mission statement,
stating 3 things we stand for and 3 things we do not.
It was a very useful exercise that I think any young startup company founding team should go through.
In the end, there is of course short-term profit to be had if you're disingenuous: see the rapid rise and fall of Zynga.
But I believe there is long-term success and staying-power to be had from being a positive actor: see Salesforce.
Which type of company do you want to build?
This post is part of Social Media is Made of People Week