Early in my investigation, I discovered that the founders of MySpace were scammers. Before they started the social-networking site, they sent spam, distributed spyware, and peddled spy cameras you could hide in your shoe and e-books touting “how to grow taller” and “how to hypnotize people.” MySpace was just an idea they copied from a popular Web site at the time, Friendster.It sounds like a book well worth reading.
MySpace’s parent company, Intermix, wasn’t much better. It made most of its money selling subscription wrinkle cream and diet pills online, had a spyware business of its own, and had a thriving animated greeting card business best known for its fart and poopy diaper jokes.
In the book, the venture capitalist who backed Intermix (and was initially reluctant to support MySpace) David Carlick says why he’s not worried about the unsavory parts of Intermix. “Marketing has always been on the scary edge of ethical.”
This was a vastly different story than the canonical tech startup tale. This oft-told narrative stars a Bill Gates genius-type founder dropping out of Harvard to work on his technological breakthrough in a garage somewhere.
Meeting this new type of success story I wondered: were the MySpace founders just lucky? Or was their hucksterism part of what it takes to succeed?
And thus I stumbled onto my big idea: The greatest entrepreneurs are hucksters who have simply crossed the line into brilliance.