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"There is no tradeoff between quality & scale." ~ @nivi

nivi
For entrepreneurs, there is no tradeoff between quality & scale. The job is to do both—not one or the other. If it can't be done, innovate.
4:42 PM Sep 09 2012

Stashed in: @angellist, Interest Graph!, Curation, Startups, Tumblr!, Pinterest, 9gag, Reddit!, Awesome, Whatever., Dafuq?, @katyperry, Seems legit.

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Whatever

I'd be convinced if Nivi could answer this question: How could Facebook continue flooding the news feeds of a billion users with fresh, time-based stories if they had the additional requirement that stories be interesting?

My answer is that they can't. Facebook is a perfect example of the negatively-sloped relationship between volume and average interestingness. Hence "Lucas just listened to Katy Perry on Spotity" followed by "Lucas read an article about Kim Kardashian's butt with Yahoo Social Reader."

Hell, TechCrunch is an example of the trade-off between scale and interestingness. They produce articles at a scale such that a randomly selected article is, on average, not interesting enough to be worth reading.

What Nivi seems to be saying is that unless you have scale, quality doesn't matter.

And plenty of things get to scale without quality, as you illustrated with Facebook.

Furthermore, if you have scale, no one seems to question your quality.

The logical extreme of this is that startups should focus on getting as many users as possible, as fast as possible.

I interpreted as saying that if you can't get high-quality content in high volume, you're not innovating hard enough.

As though there is some way to "innovate" around the fact that you just can't produce high-quality stories at the firehose scale.

Mostly I just got annoyed because an inspirateur "innovation" tweet got RT'd into my stream. I get tired of seeing that term getting bandied about so much. Silicon Valley companies aren't putting rovers on Mars. "Innovation" is a $5 word used by people who are essentially bloggers or other media personalities.

What we do is tweak settings in well-understood technologies and technical use cases to (almost blindly) stumble upon a sweet spot in human use cases. If that's innovation, then I guess we're innovators.

But I also think that you really have to decide on a general strategy that's realistic about the balance of average quality of stories/tweets/"social objects" vs. scale.

Worse, this is the kind of innovation most investors are interested in.

So lots of companies are chasing curation.

Most companies will struggle to be relevant at all.

That's the biggest challenge of curation companies -- how to rise above the noise.

Only a few -- Tumblr, Pinterest, Reddit, and 9gag -- have managed to do so.

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