Value is Subjective. Even When it’s a Little Ghost.

Posted by | July 31, 2013 | Uncategorized | 22 Comments

So I posted a LinkedIn Article the other day about Snapchat, and I got a series of comments stemming from me talking about the “old, out-of-touch white guy.” That was me, really. I was talking about guys like me and being out-of-touch and not cool.

I’m blown away by people’s POV on Snapchat in general. With all these new platforms, you hear the same thing over and over which is “it doesn’t bring value.” Now, I think value is a subjective thing, and we can get into that another time, but here is the statement I want to make:

If people fail to understand that technology is now functioning the same way as fashion and music, they are missing the boat.

Technology is now culture. Back in the day when people compared Elvis to the devil, those people were 30, 40, 50 year-olds. They didn’t get it. People went crazy about The Beatles and their long hair. They said that music didn’t bring value either.

So I get that you think Snapchat is dumb. I get that you think it’s worthless and just for silly 20 year olds to send each other naked pictures of themselves. Except hundreds of millions of pictures are being sent every day, which means it has to be bringing value to somebody.

The same old clichéd arguments about how Facebook had no value and Twitter had no value are now taking place around platforms like Snapchat. If Snapchat (or someone like them) wins out, the idea of disappearing photos (and I know there are problems there, but this is first generation stuff, guys), and fast communication is going to be a serious play.

So coming back to my first point, for the people out there who are displaying this lack of understanding: Yes it does feel like you’re old and out-of-touch. Yes it does feel like you’re not cool. That’s exactly what’s going on. You’re just not talking to 13-25 year-olds who are finding lots of value in it. You might not find value in EDM music, either, but plenty of people do. So if you’re seeking this Holy Grail that everybody’s talking about: Understanding what brings people value, you first have to understand that something may bring value to other people, but not to you. Value is subjective.

So maybe you’re not cool anymore. That’s ok. Neither am I. Maybe we can just settle on “sophisticated” ;)


Read more of my writings on MEDIUM and LINKEDIN

  • Bob


  • Zeke


    Sometimes great music is made by the Shaggs, or Herman’s Hermits or Marc Blitzstein. Not every bit of great technology is going to be as influential as the Beatles, Elvis, Napster or Skype.

  • Bloomers!

    To me the value of snapchat is practical. How many times do you go back to a picture that someone sent you and look at it again. If you’re busy like me… probably never. So why not look at it and then have it disappear? Why have it linger?

    • Denis

      the picture is no really gone. If you want the picture you can always get it back

  • Richard Lalonde

    I just started using snapchat, I downloaded it because in the middle of my Cutco training session a rep in my training class started laughing and I asked, “what’s so funny”. He said, snap chat!

    At first, I thought, okay,this is stupid, but then I started using it more and connecting with more people and yes! there is tons of Value!

  • David Miller

    Where do you see the revenue streams coming from and how? In-app purchases? Native advertising?

  • Megan Pangan

    I’m 26 and feel old. Took me 30 mins to figure out Snapchat!

    • garyvaynerchuk


  • Anthony De Rosa

    Maybe people aren’t considering the full potential of Snapchat….

  • Guest

    So when are the technological revolution of social gona come to us old peeps then? Snapchat is to fast for a +50 year old, I cant even get to see the picture before it is gone. I have to change glasses, stare att the screen get the eyes to focus and register at the back of my skull what is it that I’m seeing? That takes more then 10 seconds :)

  • AndersN

    So when are the technological revolution of social gona come to us old peeps then? Snapchat is to fast for a +50 year old, I cant even get to see the picture before it is gone. I have to change glasses, stare at the screen get the eyes to focus and register at the back of my skull what is it that I’m seeing? That takes more then 10 seconds :)

  • Kellin Patler

    Wait until Apple integrates ‘time-bomb messaging’ into iMessage and buys Snapchat for the IP.

  • Matthew Topaz

    “it doesn’t bring value” = “i don’t know how to bring value to this”

  • jkrums

    I get where the value is for the users.. But what I’m struggling with is to come up with a viable business model. If they have advertising.. how does it work.. is it before the snapchat you receive.. Is it around the context of the photo, use geotagging to give you a better experience.. It’s all very early and will be interesting to see if they can figure out a way to generate substantial revenue from a model that does not create a social graph and all the value is in the real time aspect of the app. It would have made sense to be part of a bigger network and slowly integrate into (facebook, yahoo, google, etc.. )

    • john

      You make excellent points. Before advertising, Snapchat hopes to offer in-app purchases. They already received a 3bn cash offer from facebook and turned it down.

  • Vishnu

    Music has the power to inspire and create nostalgic experiences; snap chat is not capable of creating this kind of value. I remember when geocities had value, geo-what? App technology is about impermanence to some extent. The true value of tech is in platforming for newer tech. Eventually code will write code on the basis of identifiable opportunity visible in analytic trends … eventually. For now realize that snapchat, as great as it may be won’t last as long as the Beatles, MJ, Biggie or the other great artists. Art simply lasts longer than fashion. Fashion does go in cycles and that seems to indicate a bubble effect occurring, supply superseding demand. I believe that there is a bubble effect occurring with tech as well. The value is being inflated greatly to attract business opps, in marketing and equity speculators. EDM music does have great value bc/ people create lasting memories at EDM events. Also dance is an intrinsic part of human identity and culture dating back to tribal times. Technology is a tool. All tools must have usefulness and eventually abdicate to newer better tools. So snapchat sure does have value, but it is more of a tool than a lasting experience. You will remember the first time you saw your fave artist perform, but it’s not likely that you will remember when you first used geocities, myspace, napster or snapchat.

    • Doug Perry

      spot on!

  • djjaron

    I was in awe over the Christmas break when I went to a party and every person thefe was on Snapchat. Im 33 and like to think i have the latest and greatest communication methodolgies, but was left in the dust on this one. Two pieces came to mind, one its only 10seconds of your life to act dumb and send ot to your friends family, whoever and then its gone. This is the definition of childhood and adulesence , be young be crazy, zero costs, fuck the world right.. Then no evidence,, …★★ The piece that got me was the point reward system.. Yes theres hierarchy, and the champ always wins something, i smell monetization.. then again im just some 30 year old olhead.

  • Crystal Foth

    So I’m 41 and trying to figure out Snapchat thanks to you listening to Keith Ferrazzi interview with you ;). I need the “sophisticated” tutorial – hope I figure it out! I want to be on your Snapchat list!

  • jigletunit

    Speaking from a 19 year-old’s perspective, snapchat is probably one of the most inane ideas released on the public. It’s basically for girls to duckface like their sucking a dick and sending it instantly to a guy they think is cute. Oddly enough, I see lots of guys doing the exact same thing back…

  • Marijke Sultana Bechan

    yeah I agree…….I think the same and I am almost 55 years young! Every generation has his own view and interests…but we always find a way to learn from each other Gary ;)

  • saad

    What a stupid read about. Woah “value” is “subjective”. Who knew?…

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