Monday, June 2, 2014

A Barnyard of Entrepreneurs 4: The Chief Evangelist

Rooster looked across the barnyard and saw Black Rat standing by the chicken coop.  He had a small audience, never a good sign.  Rooster strutted over to see what was going on.

"I'm an evangelist," he heard Rat saying.  As Rooster drew closer, he could see that Rat had a strange plastic cone over his nose held in place by an elastic band stretched behind his ears.  He looked a little bit like a clown, but the disquieting kind that make balloon animals at children's birthday parties.

"What's that?" asked Brown Hen.  "What's an evangelist?"

Rat smiled.  "That's someone with passion."  Then he pointed to the strange cone on his nose.  "And I'm passionate about this!"

The hens fluttered.  Brown Hen was unmoved.  She scratched the dirt.  "Are you marketing something?"  Rooster drew in closer.  He wasn't sure he liked where this was going.

Rat was appalled.  "Marketing is so 20th century," he exclaimed.  "Old rats did marketing.  Dead rats did marketing.  I am a Chief Evangelist!"

Rooster chuckled.  A few months ago Rat had been a Serial Entrepreneur.  It was hard sometimes to keep up with titles.  He stuck his head up.  "What are you evangelizing, Rat?"

Rat smiled.  Finally someone who got it.  "Glad you asked!"  He beamed.  "It's an olfactory head-mounted sensor for ubiquitous smelling. A Nosehole.  It's going to totally disrupt the old, tired olfactory space."

A few of the hens took a step back.  Brown Hen held her ground.  "What's it do?" she asked skeptically.

Rat smiled again.  "You won't believe it," he said.  "It does olfactory recognition, smell manipulation, odor translation--and," he laughed, "shares it all to social networks!"

"Oh," replied Hen, clearly concerned.  She had a secret stash of fermented corn feed crumble hidden not far away.  It suddenly seemed at risk.  "Is it on?"

Rat laughed.  "Yes, and you can tell by the big green light!"  Hen leaned in.  "We really respect your right to olfactory privacy!" Rat added.  Hen leaned in further.  "I don't see the light."  Rat crossed his eyes, trying to see the end of the cone.  Then he slapped the cone with his paw.  The green light popped on.

"Just a prototype," Rat explained.  "But Version 1 is guaranteed to protect your olfactory privacy!"  The green light blinked once, and again, and then went out.  The hens fluttered.  Some took another step back.  This wasn't going well.

"Have you marketed, ah, evangelized it with anyone else?" Rooster asked Rat, trying to be helpful.  He liked Rat even if he rarely understood him.  Rat winced.  "Well," he said, "I demonstrated it to Hound."  Rooster waited.  "He just accused me of trying to get a better smell of his butt."  Rooster smiled.  What was it about dogs and butts, anyway?  "Probably not your best market."  Rooster wanted to be encouraging.

Brown Hen had seen about enough, though.  "Rat," she said, "I don't mean to be unsocial." And then she looked him straight in his little rat eyes:  "But if you come near the coop again with that ubiquitous olfactory monstrosity, I'll rip it off your face and shove it up your. . ."  Rooster put his wing on her shoulder.  "Rat," he said, "perhaps this isn't your best market, either."

Black Rat was unhappy.  This wasn't supposed to happen to a Chief Evangelist bringing the Good News of Technological Disruption to the Great Unwashed.  He looked at Rooster, though, and decided his best course was retreat.  "You'll never be part of my Nosehole Explorer Community," he mumbled.  "And when the Singularity comes," he shot a look at Brown Hen as he slunk away, "you're going to be one very sorry fowl."

The next day, purely by coincidence, the Hen's Coop received 13 one-star reviews on Google profiles.  That happened to be--also purely by coincidence--the very moment that Brown Hen finally understood the difference between the new discipline of passionate evangelizing and the old one of dead marketing.

January 2015 update: On January 19 sales of Google Glass were discontinued.  Not, of course, that that has anything to do with what's going on in the story above.)