If you’ve ever enjoyed popular comic strip Dilbert, then this might just ruin it for you. Scott Adams, creator of the strip, and also co-founder of blockchain app company WhenHub, decided that the recent Gilroy Garlic Festival mass shooting would be the perfect opportunity to market his new company.
As reported by Gizmodo, WhenHub is an app similar to Cameo, which allows anyone to get financially rewarded for creating videos. In theory, it can be used for someone to become a video mentor to others, or for someone to monetize their interactions with news media.
That’s exactly the idea Adams was pushing when news of the Gilroy shooting hit. While Twitter was flooded with accounts of what happened, with several people posting their personal videos of the event, Adams tweeted this:
— Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) July 29, 2019
Now, the media frenzy over tragedies like this is always a little tasteless. Under any video that goes viral, you’ll find producers asking if they can use the video for their outlet, or reaching out to conduct an interview. There’s just not a great way for media outlets to cover the story in seconds without coming off a little tasteless.
Adam’s effort though is particularly off-putting. In effect, he’s doing the exact same thing those producers would, but trying to gain additional users for his platform, thus creating a middle-man to create a business model between the tragedy and the coverage.
Is there a valid business to be had there? Maybe. That’s up to society to decide if those who are interviewed by media, and specifically those who have experienced a tragedy should be compensated for their accounts. It could be seen as a fair trade between two parties who expect to profit, and many valid blockchain applications are being built around exactly this type of exchange. Or it could be interpreted as profiteering over the senseless deaths of a shooting. So far, the public has landed on the latter.
Regardless of if the core idea of WhenHub works in theory, Adams’ timing was atrocious, and he was called out for it. Below is an example of one of the hundreds of tweets that ratio’d Adams advertising:
This is fucking disgusting and you should be ashamed of yourself.
— Merry Whitta (@garywhitta) July 29, 2019
For Adams part, he’s refused to apologize and has labeled the outrage as fake. This has continued a trend Adams has created where he’s been identified as an “evil” and an “opportunist,” and seems like a very unlikely way to push his blockchain app.
The story as a whole seems to hold a very important lesson for the blockchain space. As cool as you think your technology might be, there’s a place and a time to promote your app. In the hours after a tragedy, it’s probably better to stick to thoughts and prayers.
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