A group of 100 of Silicon Valley's most connected and influential persons have recently received a free electronic bidet toilet seat from a San Francisco start-up that shall remained unnamed (I'll explain later).
The 100 are members of an elite group that will receive free high tech gadgets through a programme conceived by San Francisco marketing firm The Stonebrick Group. Since us mere mortals look up to the likes of Netscape founder Marc Andreessen, venture capitalists Tim Draper, Yahoo vice president Katie Mitic, Siebel Systems cofounder Pat House and Electronic Arts senior vice president Rusty Rueff, we will want to wear the clothes they wear and the gadgets they play with.
The Stonebrick Group hopes that its top 100 list will create appeal out of thin air, in a way similar to what David Beckham did for Siemens Mobile and Michael Jordan did for Nike. The entrepreneurs and executives are supposed to start blogging about the products and recommend them to their friends.
Although I'm saddened by the idea than anyone thinks a product is cool because Marc Andreessen says it is, I fear it will work. Just don't expect me go along with this. That's why I refuse to name the maker of the toilet seat.
The Stonebrick Group won't include journalists on its list, because: "Those people have a different standard and shouldn’t be keeping free products," CEO Auren Hoffman of the marketing firm told Newsweek. In other words: journalists actually have codes of ethics that keep them from blatantly endorsing products because they got them for free – but it's fine to do so for bloggers, entrepreneurs and executives.
My respect for Marc Andreessen just made a nosedive all the way to the bottom and beyond.
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