Local computer scientist turned entrepreneur Brandon Diamond vented a little bit on Twitter this afternoon about the superficial aspects of start-up land.
“What went wrong with tech, it became about fashion, not value,” Diamond wrote, before posting a link to this ad for AirBnB featuring a fetching hipster spokeswoman.
Nate Westheimer pinged him back to ask, “How so? Tech is still tech,” and with that, a full fledged Twitter debate had begun.
“The determinant of a product’s success is less its quality, more its sex appeal.”
“How do you measure quality?” Westheimer counters.
Like all things in life, a certain amount of sex appeal helps products along. Millions of consumers have voted for the iPhone, despite its long record of less than stellar service as a device for making phone calls, in large part because of its aesthetic qualities. Start-ups are the same, and that rule applies to everything from the UX to the founder’s personal magnetism.
“Perhaps what I’m lamenting is the maturation of the free web,” Diamond wrote to Betabeat over an afternoon gchat. “The emphasis has shifted from the product to the user which — incidentally — is a good thing. I think there are good things and bad things about it; certainly more money to be made but when image surpasses more concrete measurements of value I think that’s a dangerous thing and in the case of certain popular startups, I think image drives a lot more than what we freely admit.”