April 23, 2012

Is Kevin Rose worth one billion dollars?

A couple of weeks ago, the social network Facebook bought the company Instagram for $1 billion. Instagram was launched in 2010 and is a photo sharing program where you can share your pictures with people through other social networks. Little is known exactly why the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, decided to buy Instagram. Some say Facebook panicked when they saw how many users Instagram got and they thought that Instagram was a threat to Facebook. For example, more than 1 million people downloaded Instagram's new Android app on its first day of availability.

One other threat to Facebook is Google's own social network: Google+. Much has been written about why Facebook bought Instagram - but little has been written about Google's own "purchase" some weeks ago. They didn't buy a company - they acquired a man with the name Kevin Rose.

Kevin Rose is famous for creating the social news website Digg in 2004. Digg is a service similar to Trejdify where you submit links you like and vote on the best links. After leaving Digg, Kevin Rose created the company Milk and they launched an app with the funny name Oink. For some unknown reason, Kevin Rose decided to shut down Milk and join Google+. The question is: Should Facebook be afraid?

If you analyze why Google+ hired Kevin Rose from a psychological point of view, you realize that Facebook should be afraid. Kevin Rose is quite popular on the Internet. He has 1.3 million followers on Twitter (@kevinrose) and his dog Toaster has 4800 followers (@toasterpup). One can say that he is an authority to many Internet users - if Kevin Rose says something, his followers will follow. If Kevin Rose starts wearing a pink rabbit suit, some users are going to follow him.

According to the book Influence, it has been proven that we as humans follow authorities. We are trained from birth to follow authorities and information from a recognized authority can provide us with a valuable shortcut for deciding how to act in a situation. For example:
  • A nurse may listen to a doctor even though the nurse knows the doctor is wrong - what would make common sense in this case is irrelevant since the doctor is an authority
  • People follow someone in a black suit who walks across the road despite a red light - they didn't follow someone not dressed in a suit

It is hard to put a number on how many people may follow Kevin Rose from Facebook or Twitter to Google+ - but one should expect many of them. And as more people join Google+, more will follow, and in the end maybe Kevin Rose was worth $1 billion dollars.

Update: A link at sources to Kevin Rose's Google+ account

Source: pandodaily, CNN Money, Wikipedia, Wikipedia, Google+