The Empire’s New Clothes: Why I don’t like Empire Avenue
“So the Emperor went in procession under the rich canopy, and every one in the streets said, “How incomparable are the Emperor’s new clothes! what a train he has to his mantle! how it fits him!” No one would let it be perceived that he could see nothing, for that would have shown that he was not fit for his office, or was very stupid.” – The Emperor’s New Clothes, by Hans Christian Andersen. (1805–1875)
I have to say it. I see nothing of value in Empire Avenue where the home page exclaims “Everyone’s For Sale!”
In this new social game, you earn a virtual currency called “Eaves” by buying other people and, in turn, you try to raise your own worth by getting other people to invest in you. Even if you look at it as just fun, I still don’t see it.
The site had crossed my radar before this week, but I didn’t expect it to pick up much steam. Then, on Monday I saw David Armano send out a tweet that he was for sale on it. I tweeted back asking…why? His response was, “yeah I have no idea. It’s kind of addicting like Twitter and Foursquare were.”
His blog post later that day echoed much of that sentiment: “Like Twitter and Foursquare, the network makes very little sense to the first time participant. […] First impressions? I’m not seeing a practical use but it’s a lot more fun in many regards than Facebook.”
Just couple of days later, though, Jeremiah Owyang is blogging about it. While admitting several risks and challenges to the site, he still believes it could be a threat to Klout, Peer Index and “Social Analytics firms that try to understand the engagement of social media accounts.”
Then, Scott Monty chimes in saying he thinks Empire Avenue is on to something: “Think of the value they could add by giving clients a dashboard in which they could actively participate rather than simply consume information about the influencers they’re trying to reach.”
And, I guess we can probably give credit to Robert Scoble’s interview with the game founder for creating the tipping point for all this activity, since the site itself has been around for a couple of years.
Maybe I’m being too sensitive about this, but putting a price on people seems wrong. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth in a day & age where there is still a need for Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher’s “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” campaign.
Maybe I’m uptight, though – it’s all just a game, right? Well, I don’t think it’s a good one. We don’t really need something else to feed the egos of the “internet famous” and there are already stock exchange games for those who just want to play at investing in companies.
Plenty of brands like Audi, Ford (Scott Monty’s employer), Sears and Oreo are getting on the shiny new object bandwagon, though. Caleb Storkey thinks this raises the possibility of companies being rewarded for good decisions, or being sold off after bad decisions – a sort of virtual shareholder vote. But, I find it hard to believe that even the most forward-thinking investor relations team that grasps the benefit of social media could take such action as serious as real shareholder feedback.
Storkey says that when he spoke with Owyang about it, Jeremiah said “this is special, this is something different.” But different does not mean good. I see no thread on the loom, no cloth with patterns and colors.
“’But he has nothing on!’ a little child cried out at last.”