Whether you are a CEO, sales guy or entrepreneur the fantasy of exponential growth is what we all strive for. However to experience white hot growth is a myth. Over the past 2 weeks I’ve been seeing headlines of the white hot growth of Pinterest. (Yes, it’s heralded as the next “big thing” but I have zero use for an online scrap book. That maybe a simplification of Pinteret but that’s not the point of this post.)
Pinterest is the latest in a series of similar stories such as “XYZ is growing faster than Facebook did in its first 18 months” or “XYZ has more 1/4 the page views of Twitter”. The headlines are supposed to grab the attention of the reader and I assume make the reader want to get on the latest bandwagon social platform. The thinking is “wow I’m on Facebook and if XYZ is hotter than Facebook then I should be on XYZ.”
If you look at the early growth curve for Facebook or Twitter in retrospect it was good but not phenomenal. Twitter was slow and steady in the early years in the past 2 years the growth has really accelerated. In fact, when Facebook was launched it was not for you and me, it was targeted at the Ivy League schools.
Recently, Dennis Crowley of Foursquare summed it up best:
Everyone thinks the Foursquare experience is this rocket ship that started at SXSW 2009 and it hasn’t let up, when in reality it was a little spike and then a summer of nothing
The truth is Dennis can say this now and be open about it, back then if it said the same thing it would have surely killed the enthusiasm. Because, from a startup perspective you want everyone to believe that your company REALLY is the hottest thing since Facebook or Twitter. Which is exactly what Pinterest is doing. The question is, will they be around to be as honest as Dennis is.