Jason Calacanis Goes Green, Tells Affiliates to Stop Polluting

Posted on February 26, 2008
Filed Under Web 2.0 Kool Aid |

It appears that Jason Calacanis is as concerned about the environment as Mark Zuckerberg. During his keynote speech at Affiliate Summit in Las Vegas yesterday, : “don’t pollute the river.”

As reported by of ( home away from home):

Calacanis said there was a place for publishers who add real value, but told the hundreds of affiliates in attendance that too many of them were ruining the internet and causing damage with adware, malware and spam.

“Affiliate companies are creating the infrastructure that allows people to pollute the well,” he said. “They are culpable.”

So what should affiliate marketers and the companies that run affiliate programs do?

“Instead of creating bullshit affiliate sites, someone in this room could create the next Digg or StumbleUpon.”


Calacanis’ statement reflects the naive belief system that fuels Silicon Valley: you could easily start the next Google or Yahoo (or if you’re slightly more modest, Digg or StumbleUpon). Come up with an idea, add VC funding, get reviewed on TechCrunch and watch the money flow down Sand Hill Creek into your bank account. It’s so simple that it boggles the mind that anybody would get into the affiliate game instead of the startup game.

Of course, those who don’t fish at Sand Hill Lake on a massive clipper yacht probably recognize the obvious: for all the entrepreneurs who attempt to create “the next big thing,” most don’t. And even when one does create “the next big thing,” there’s no guarantee that he’s going to make money. Digg, for instance, has lived off of VC money and seems to be having an awfully hard time getting somebody to think it’s worth $300 million.

I won’t deny that there are affiliates who don’t contribute much to the Internet. But I hope Jason Calacanis won’t deny that there are startups that don’t contribute much to the Internet either. After all, are many of the Web 2.0 startups not “pollution” too? Just how many social networks do we need? Is another Digg clone really necessary? Will another video sharing service really make the world a better place? And what painful problem does a human-powered search engine solve?

The truth is that most affiliate marketers are decent people trying to make a living, just like many () of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Ironically, many successful affiliate marketers put many successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to shame when it comes to personal finances. It may shock kool aid drinkers, but affiliate programs actually make real money and pay real money. Thus, some people involved in the affiliate world are sitting on real money.

Compare that to quite a few Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who live off of VC subsidies hoping that one day they can perform alchemy: take a company that doesn’t earn a cent and get a company that earns a lot of cents to buy you.

I think I’d rather collect a five-figure commission check every month getting people to take out Advanta credit cards than I would collect a VC-subsidized salary hoping that Google will one day write me an eight-figure check. But that’s just me; not everybody likes their cash cold and hard.

At the end of the day, when an entrepreneur who is neck deep in the Web 2.0 hype tells affiliates that they’re polluting the Internet it’s like listening to a pig farmer whose waste is polluting the local river complain about how the oil refinery on the other side of that river is harming the environment. At some point, the pig shit and the refinery sludge become indistinguishable from each other and both smell equally disturbing.

Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Netvouz
  • ThisNext
  • Reddit
  • SphereIt
  • Slashdot
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
Print This Post Print This Post


4 Responses to “Jason Calacanis Goes Green, Tells Affiliates to Stop Polluting”

  1. Morgan on February 26th, 2008 3:16 am

    To be a successful affiliate marketer, though, you actually have to provide something that someone is looking for– it’s a reality check that most 2.0 companies never have.

    To say that it’s ‘polluting’ to be associated with something as crass as money voluntarily changing hands should give investors in 2.0 some serious pause.

    Anyway, whatever. It’s not multiple millions of dollars, but I have some real work and real revenue to go deal with. Affiliate revenue.

  2. Affiliate Summit West 2008 Mega Round-up - Pictures, Videos, News, Blogs - 5 Star Affiliate Marketing Blogs on February 26th, 2008 12:48 pm

    […] Jason Calacanis Goes Green, Tells Affiliates to Stop Polluting […]

  3. Hear the Controversial Jason Calacanis Summit Keynote - 5 Star Affiliate Marketing Blogs on February 28th, 2008 12:58 pm

    […] Jason Calacanis Goes Green, Tells Affiliates to Stop Polluting […]

  4. Calacanis and Workaholics : The Drama 2.0 Show on March 11th, 2008 12:06 am

    […] Calacanis’ latest flare-up of chronic foot-in-mouth disease got the Web 2.0 blogosphere’s panties in a knot. Some have lambasted […]

Leave a Reply