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The Stanford Class That Built Apps and Made Fortunes

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the right-time-right-place dept.

Education 125

The NY Times has a story about a group of students who took a 2007 course in app development at Stanford that turned out far better than any of them expected. Quoting: "... by teaching students to build no-frills apps, distribute them quickly and worry about perfecting them later, the Facebook Class stumbled upon what has become standard operating procedure for a new generation of entrepreneurs and investors in Silicon Valley and beyond. ... Early on, the Facebook Class became a microcosm of Silicon Valley. Working in teams of three, the 75 students created apps that collectively had 16 million users in just 10 weeks. Many of those apps were sort of silly: Mr. De Lombaert’s, for example, allowed users to send “hotness” points to Facebook friends. Yet during the term, the apps, free for users, generated roughly $1 million in advertising revenue."

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MBA's . . . (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059078)

This is what business schools teach? No wonder the US is going down the toilet.

Re:MBA's . . . (5, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059108)

This is what business schools teach? No wonder the US is going down the toilet.

No joke. Get rich quick! Don't worry about making something you're proud of. Be proud of the money you tricked people into giving you for broken functionality. Then call them morons for ever trusting you.

Re:MBA's . . . (2)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059128)

LOL, the QOTD is "To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. -- Thomas Edison"
I guess nowadays, they just need the pile of junk.

Re:MBA's . . . (2)

CTU (1844100) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059526)

LOL, the QOTD is "To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. -- Thomas Edison"

I guess nowadays, they just need the pile of junk.

no, they have good ideas...on how to market a pile of junk.

Re:MBA's . . . (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060022)

Or, in Thomas Edison's case, a lot of people to copy from and then claim it was your own idea.

Re:MBA's . . . (2)

yuriyg (926419) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059792)

No joke. Get rich quick! Don't worry about making something you're proud of. Be proud of the money you tricked people into giving you for broken functionality. Then call them morons for ever trusting you.

Jealous much?

Re:MBA's . . . (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060018)

Jealous much?

No. I'm content where I am. If I was where they were, passing off (useless) programs to end users and selling the (useless) end user data to advertisers so that the advertisers can eventually annoy the end users with ads for stuff they don't want, then I'd feel guilty. This class (like many MBA classes) isn't about teaching business ethics or making a business you'd be proud of. This class sounds like a sociopath factory.

Re:MBA's . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059852)

This is the penultimate success in the free market. The point is to make as much money with as little investment as possible. I don't know why people get upset about this. The market obviously wants these apps or it wouldn't make money. Your complaint is with the idiocy of the public, not the people exploiting that for profit.

Re:MBA's . . . (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060232)

What is the ultimate success in the free market then?

Re:MBA's . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059934)

You sound like a pathetic jealous nerd, who has never created anything of worth, and thus will always spend working in a cubicle for someone else. You're pathetic.

Re:MBA's . . . (2, Insightful)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059114)

I like software, its a good thing, but man we are going downhill quick! Its nice that facebook exists, but its just a communications platform. Its not the cure to cancer! I wish more research would go into things like green energy! Oh wait, I forgot that requires work, thought and energy! Its easier to crank out stuff for facebook!!!!

Re:MBA's . . . (5, Insightful)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059556)

Not a zero sum game. It's not like, if this class didn't exist, these students would all be working on improving Folding@Home, or developing a new kind of algorithm to help power companies optimise their electricity transmission infrastructure or some other equally "socially beneficial" task. Hell, some of those same students might be doing those things in one of their other classes.

As for bemoaning Facebook itself (if that's what you're doing) and crying out for a cure for cancer or for research into green energy, again, it's not a zero sum game. If not for Facebook, would Mark Zuckerberg have started a cobbled together laboratory out of his apartment and grown it to a billion-dollar medical research facility within the same time period? Could he have built the next "Mr. Fusion"? No. In this alternate reality, he'd just be another nameless droid in a big company. And you'd be completely ignorant of the fact that e.g. he managed to deliver that company's new Intranet application, and you'd be complaining about whatever other social network replaced MySpace.

What we should be discussing, (instead of bitching and moaning that them young folks are making money from silly ideas), is that instead of developing a web app for a project in class that helps a fictional hotelier manage bookings, billing etc. they developed a real product and put it out into the world. This, surely, is a good thing, no matter how trivial their product.

Re:MBA's . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059804)

What we should be discussing is that instead of developing a web app for a project in class that helps a fictional hotelier manage bookings, billing etc. they developed a real product and put it out into the world. This, surely, is a good thing, no matter how trivial their product.

Absolutely agree. As Derek "Spelunky" Yu says [tumblr.com] all too well of making games, the most important thing above all else is to FINISH THE PROJECT. All software developers know the feeling of the excitement of a new project gradually dwindling and eventually being shelved as something else comes along. I have a great respect for a class that can teach getting a product out the door.

The latter half of TFA is talking about the students' stories, as they went on to bigger and better things. It's not suggesting that anyone believed sitting in a room and writing Facebook apps was the future. It provided a start though, and getting a product out led to success. It's a valuable lesson in the value of prototyping, which indie game developers have been applying to great success in recent times.

Re:MBA's . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059122)

What the hell are you talking about? These students made shit tons of money from this. That IS GOOD BUSINESS sense and strategy. These students and the professor attacked a niche market right when it opened up. That's forward thinking on all the applicants parts, and I would hire any of those students in an instant if I had the power.

Re:MBA's . . . (4, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059168)

What the hell are you talking about? These students made shit tons of money from this. That IS GOOD BUSINESS sense and strategy.

You two are talking about different things. GP wasn't lamenting the plight of business sense and strategy. GP was saying that the US is going to pot because of the philosophies of "release the alpha, never plan on releasing good product" and "ad money! ad money! ad money!" are decreasing the quality of everything we use. Not just in software, either.
If "making gobs of money before anyone figures out you don't provide value (or you provide negative value)" is the only arbiter of good business strategy, then muggers are incredible businessmen.

Re:MBA's . . . (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059198)

You two are talking about different things. GP wasn't lamenting the plight of business sense and strategy. GP was saying that the US is going to pot because of the philosophies of "release the alpha, never plan on releasing good product" and "ad money! ad money! ad money!" are decreasing the quality of everything we use. Not just in software, either.

If "making gobs of money before anyone figures out you don't provide value (or you provide negative value)" is the only arbiter of good business strategy, then muggers are incredible businessmen.

Then we are talking about the same thing. These apps are very simple, as such the alpha, and beta phases are merged and testing can take place in a matter of hours. Some of these apps aren't much more then advanced versions of "Hello World!" Now that doesn't mean there isn't value here, the app it self isn't necessarily worth anything, but at the same time people love little "gadgets" that they can play with. This app gives that to them free of charge. In exchange there are some relatively minor ads. What made these apps generate so much revenue where the shear number of people who downloaded them.

When you think about it, it's not much different then the 99c rubber band gun I have in my office. It's a small cheap toy that anyone could build. Yet I bought it because it was cheap, and honestly not worth my time to build. It was and remains worth the 99c I paid for it. The same goes with applications, just because the app is simple doesn't mean it's with out value.

Re:MBA's . . . (1)

Capt. Skinny (969540) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059396)

"making gobs of money before anyone figures out you don't provide value (or you provide negative value)"

The revenue was from advertisers, so value is not measured by how useful and polished the app is, but by how many eyeballs catch a glimpse of it. Think of it like the swag given away trade-shows and conferences: most of that stuff is poorly designed and cheaply made, but it serves a useful purpose: advertising. No one bitches and moans when the pocket lint roller they got for free from a trade-show booth falls apart, because it was free and it may have even served it's purpose a handful of times before the poor design became an issue.

Re:MBA's . . . (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060218)

Except nowhere did they say "Never intend to make a good product".

I wholeheartedly embrace this release strategy. As a user I would rather have access to technology before it's outdated. Also with my input *during* the development I can offer them better insights than they could working in a vacuum.

There are two ways to work. You can draw up plans then ho and hum for months about whether A or B would work better. Or you can build a prototype and have people start using A and B. Usually you'll get your answer very quickly and they'll tell you C.

Deploy fast. Fix fast. Respond quickly to your user's input. "A good test is worth a thousand expert opinions."

Programmers are great at programming. But most of the things they develop are to solve problems they have little to no understanding of. Programmers make applications for users who are experts at their jobs. The sooner you can get those experts "working on the software" through feedback the better.

Re:MBA's . . . (1)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059540)

Here's a million dollar app idea, free for the taking. New app called "Paris Interactive Pussy". It's just Neko with the Eiffel Tower in the background. No Demo. Charge $3.

Re:MBA's . . . (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060238)

She's too old for this, and she'll sue you to oblivion.

Re:MBA's . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060278)

Students made over $1 million on a school project, and individuals paid nothing while advertisers paid a tiny bit each time. Sorry if I'm really ignorant (I took comp sci in school, not business), but how is this flushing the economy down the toilet? Seems like the total opposite to me... but then again, I'm not American and my country's economy is strong and stable (and I mean that as no troll against the US, I'm not really up to date on the state of the economy there, I just know my own country has a good and stable economy and I've read in the news that the US is still recovering) so maybe I just don't understand (in which case, please enlighten me, I would honestly appreciate it).

App programmer is the new web designer (0, Troll)

improfane (855034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059116)

Ever felt you'll be left behind? This IT treadmill is ridiculous. I learn things that come out that are new but often see through the hype. These apps aren't breakthroughs in any sense of the word. It's ridiculous how people can make money from doing nothing groundbreaking. The clueless public buy into it. I have never understood how internet media/web design/app companies can be started by students with bigger egos than ability and what they make is so painfully trivial, why are they being rewarded?

Is there such thing as geek purity? Or am I just bitter because they did it first?

Get off my lawn?

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059152)

The problem is the average public simply does not, and never will care. They are quite literally sheepel who will buy the next pretty thing that comes along. Be grateful you aren't one of them and live your life with the knowledge that they are. Now that being said, the idea of this class is a good one, from a business perspective. It shows students how to create and open markets in this economic niche. It's just so happens that the class opened up at just the right time to boom. They are being rewarded because they built something people want. It's that simple. I have no doubt that some of the students merely got luck by randomly taking this class. However a few saw the potential of this market and exploited as any "good" capitalist would.

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (1)

improfane (855034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059186)

You are absolutely right and it's depressing. Most of IT is based on the premise of bullshit. It's one big lying bubble. I hope we're in another bubble and it will collapse soon.
Apps? Mostly bullshit. I am sure there are useful ones out there but are they free? What happened to tethering?
DRM? Bullshit.
Internet media? Bullshit.
Social marketing? Bullshitting.
Twitter? Bullshit.
Facebook? Lots of bullshit.
Contextual advertising? Bullshit.
Cloud? Bullshit.
Web 2.0? Bullshit.
Social web? Bullshit.

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (1)

Jimbookis (517778) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059214)

It's nice to see there is someone who knows IT and is grumpier than me! I prostrate myself before you!

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (2)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059400)

Dude! We can see your prostrate!

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (1)

Flyerman (1728812) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059864)

you're would actually work here.

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (1)

francium de neobie (590783) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059218)

While you're saying all these things are bullshit, quite a few people made billions and thousands if not tens of thousands made millions. Businesses (e.g. Nokia, Borders) that can't follow are seeing a hit in real revenues, people are fired, and whole companies are going belly up.

You may think all these are bullshit, but to the investors, entrepreneurs and all related newly minted rich; or the newly fired people from older companies - the effects are very real.

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059408)

Isn't that why we had .com a while back?

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059300)

Your entire argument is invalid due to the use of the word "sheeple".

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059176)

They discovered iterative development again I see.

Also sometimes good enough is just that.

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (1)

GreyLurk (35139) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059264)

Shipping is the only feature that is an absolute must have for any application. The rest is just chrome.

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (1)

Capt. Skinny (969540) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059436)

Income is nice, too, if you want to keep shipping. Chrome will only fetch a limited amount it.

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (1)

ExploHD (888637) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060234)

They discovered iterative development again I see.

Not back on it, still on it.

It's not what you say, it's what people hear (1)

justsomecomputerguy (545196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059178)

It's not the quality of the app you write, it's how easy people find it and perceive it. I am very slowly learning this. Go read the book "Words That Work" by Frank Luntz. Whether you like it or not, it's true.

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (2)

francium de neobie (590783) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059190)

Maybe if you see your personal wealth as an optimization problem, and thus if you're doing consumer software - things like traction, user experience, virality as optimization problems - you'll begin to appreciate the complexities inherent in building successful products (which can look deceptively simple, but the reasoning behind something simple can be very complicated) and by extension, companies that actually work well instead of "work" like a Dilbert comic strip.

I can understand the left-leaning and socialists among Slashdotters will hate what I just said. But at the end of the day, whatever technological and scientific advance you or I made have to serve human interests. You can't say "I like to do [math|quantum mechanics|machine learning|art|product design|rockets|science fiction|...] because it's fun" without "I".

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (1)

Microlith (54737) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059204)

I can understand the left-leaning and socialists among Slashdotters will hate what I just said. But at the end of the day, whatever technological and scientific advance you or I made have to serve human interests. You can't say "I like to do [math|quantum mechanics|machine learning|art|product design|rockets|science fiction|...] because it's fun" without "I".

Ayn Rand, are you back from the dead?

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059266)

She wouldn't come back from the dead unless there was some clear benefit to society from her doing so. So, no.

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059768)

Ah, so when you come back from the dead you're the antithesis of what you were when you lived. Makes sense.

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059346)

things like traction, user experience, virality as optimization problems - you'll begin to appreciate the complexities inherent in building successful products

You appeal to the greed and vanity of the increasingly-idiotic population. Low-hanging fruit, opportunistic predator you are. Unfortunately, I know from experience that plenty of folks are more than willing to trade privacy for attention on Facebook and spend thousands on timeshares and Acai berry juice and silver half-dollars.

The sad thing is, I can't decide whether to hate you or the dumb-ass plebes you're smooth-talking. Eh, fuck it. I'll hate you both. MORANS!

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (1)

brit74 (831798) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059522)

> "I can understand the left-leaning and socialists among Slashdotters will hate what I just said..."

I'm a left-leaning slashdotter. Could you explain why I'd find what you said offensive, or are you operating under the mistake assumption that "left leaning" = "people who believe business is evil, by definition".

I think it is a bit of both (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059208)

You are being a little bitter overall and apps are a valuable new market. People have phones that they want to be more than phones and apps fill that need.

However as new market there is a situation where kinda any and everything sells, so there is a lot of money to be made on crap. People buy something not because it is that good but because they are looking for something to get.

As time goes on and the market matures, there'll be less of that. Apps will have to be higher quality for people to want to buy them.

Also you are right apps are no kind of "breakthrough". They are just programs for mobile phones and now tablets. It is a logical extension of what a smart phone is. "Hey we have a phone that is a computer too, we could probably sell programs on there, just like a real computer!"

Re:I think it is a bit of both (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059224)

You're essentially saying that the buyers were more or less conned out of their money. ... Okay, I let that sink in, and on second thought I think I agree with you.

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059210)

These apps aren't breakthroughs in any sense of the word. It's ridiculous how people can make money from doing nothing groundbreaking. The clueless public buy into it. I have never understood how internet media/web design/app companies can be started by students with bigger egos than ability and what they make is so painfully trivial, why are they being rewarded?

People are generally rewarded for being good at exploiting the market, and not much more. A good product makes that much easier to do, but there are plenty of examples all throughout history of the inventor being screwed because they did a poor job of commercialisation. Conversely, you don't need a particularly inventive or even functional product if your marketing is good enough. If you judge success as "making lots of cash" then purity and quality often have nothing to do with it; it's also worth questioning who's really smarter - the guy who slaves away in a forgotten office for 40 years to make something amazing, or the guy who makes a few million on some inane crap, then spends the next few years working in comfort (and with plenty of resources) on something amazing while the money rolls in from the well-marketed crap.

A guy at my university put together a (fairly basic) interactive website with a slightly inventive concept a year or so ago - it got some good publicity, then was taken down by the university, causing a controversy that netted him much, much more publicity. Just to make the point to a few of my friends that it wasn't really anything that special, I had a clone working the day after the original was taken down - I literally coded it over night, and I'm by no means a great developer. The guy who made the original got a £200k investment in his 'concept'; my copy got all of a few thousand hits. Honestly, I say fair play to the guy - all I really succeeded in demonstrating was that the technical skill wasn't all that valuable, and that the associated marketing and media-wrangling was what actually netted him a good chunk of cash.

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (1)

francium de neobie (590783) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059234)

Technical skills *alone* is not valuable, correct. But if you find ways to ensure whoever coming to your website will generate new users and stay (virality factor) and also grab publicity at the right moment, and you understand what "right moment" means instead of naively going to TechCrunch while your website's fundamental design is not all that viral and not all that usable (e.g. the Color app that got $41M in investments) - then, only then, will you have some chance of success.

In short, it's all about execution, and most people think it's simple.

Went to wrong university (2)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060324)

A guy at my university put together a (fairly basic) interactive website with a slightly inventive concept a year or so ago - it got some good publicity, then was taken down by the university, causing a controversy that netted him much, much more publicity.

Oh, FitFinder [wikipedia.org] , done by someone at University College, London. Now if that had happened at Stanford, the student would have been hooked up with a venture capitalist and encouraged.

Stanford is really a venture capital and real estate firm which runs a university as a sideline. In 1992, Stanford University spun off the management of its endowment to the Stanford Management Company [stanfordmanage.org] . They set up shop at 2770 Sand Hill Road, which is where almost all the Silicon Valley venture capitalists have their headquarters. Within a few years, Stanford was investing in venture capital funds, executives were moving between the academic business unit and the financial unit, and Stanford was turning into a major player in the VC industry.

Stanford actively helps to create startups and takes equity stakes in them. Stanford owns part of Cisco, part of Yahoo, part of Google, etc. They're not just a passive investor, like most universities.

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059238)

Unfortunately, the key to a successful business is to give people what they want (possibly making them think they want it along the way). All of the crap mentioned in TFA is completely and utterly worthless shit... but then again, most people are idiots and will make it profitable (either through sales or providing eyes for advertising). I'm not thrilled that the majority of my peers will engage in this sort of laughable behavior, but unfortunately there's no indication that they're going to all grow brain stems any time soon, if ever.

The market (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059298)

Which sounds better to you:
  • Spending 12 months working on a ground-breaking intelligent system that can improve the energy efficiency of buildings, then spending your time convincing people to pay you boatloads of money for it.
  • Spending 3 weeks writing a Facebook app, then 3 hours telling a few college students about it, and watching as millions of people use it and money starts coming your way.

If what you want to do is make quick and easy money, and you do not really care about learning much in the process, your choice is pretty clear. On the other hand, if you think that taking on a challenging problem that will require you to spend late nights reading research papers is more "pure" and is a better use of your time, then you should be in graduate school. If you desperately crave to sell your technology but cannot stomach the idea of working on idiotic apps that require no real effort, then you belong at a startup, assuming you can deal with venture capitalists and legal minefields.

Re:The market (1)

improfane (855034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059358)

Of course I'would like to make a living. Maybe the only true win-win situation is to do Situation 2 first then use the cash you make to startup a company to implement Situation 1.

Our society is hopelessly broken that those rewards are reversed. We're heading in the wrong direction as a society. We do not reward true innovation or contribution. Maybe I'm idealist but doesn't it depress you that most industries are merely rent seekers that leech from the real contributors of society?

Media distributors take the majority if not all of any sold product
Apple takes a commission on all app sales when the technology would perfectly support third party purchases.
Researchers probably don't make much from a research paper, a business does.
People can patent things they did not invent and usurp time, effort and money.

Can you think of more examples?

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059322)

"Or am I just bitter because they did it first?"

Yes.

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (1)

improfane (855034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059378)

You got me there.

I do think however that genuine geeks are more interested in improving and learning than fleecing people. It just so happens that the skills of a geek are often helpful for businesses, such as system administration or coding. We secretly want to improve everything and if we had the resources to do so, the world could be amazing.

Enginertopia

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059388)

Lesson number 101010 in life: "Dumb shit sells and makes far more money than quality stuff. Put advertising with that free crap and make even more money".

Re:App programmer is the new web designer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060334)

Absolutely. It is something that took me a long time to figure out. The George Foreman Grill is a perfect example. If you came into my office saying, "I want you to invest in my company that plans on marketing waffle griddles SPECIFICALLY for meat and you can even watch it drip grease..." Well, I'd have security escort you out. I was just too stupid to figure it out. Same with the Sham Wow...I mean really? A FUCKING CHAMOIS TOWEL! WOW! Vince and Billy Mays taught me that anything can sell if you say four magic words, "BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE".

Faddenomics (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060002)

For good or bad, the American economy depends on fads. Anything that becomes a predictable commodity shifts to the third world where labor is cheaper. Fads are America's comparative advantage right now. Either we tariff more, or live with the ugly fad treadmill.

great (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059144)

teaching students on how to be shills for advertisers, dont write apps because they are a good idea but so you can shill adverts and products for questionable and obviously desperate businesses !.

there was a time when people would never even think of advertising in an application (we called it adware) or adverts on your own website ? the shame of it, a time when people had dignity, now i see a bunch of desperate fools trying to get rich by trying to jump into the long line of middlemen

Re:great (1)

hinesbrad (1923872) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059336)

To think, the GAUL of someone who wants to provide end users with a FREE search engine that might need to actually sell something to keep the servers and lights on! (It seems many of the newer software models are FORCED into this model by end users who are tired of constantly paying for software that doesn't live up to its promises.)

Re:great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059390)

How does that attitude make them an iron age Western European?

people are stupid (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059170)

"send “hotness” points to Facebook friends. Yet during the term, the apps, free for users, generated roughly $1 million in advertising revenue."

Somebody please just put me out of my misery. Humanity is fucked as a species.

Re:people are stupid (2)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059180)

"send âoehotnessâ points to Facebook friends. Yet during the term, the apps, free for users, generated roughly $1 million in advertising revenue."

Somebody please just put me out of my misery. Humanity is fucked as a species.

I'd send you hotness but I'm out of mod points.

$1,000,000 / 75 = $tick to a Day Job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059174)

even if we x2.5, to compensate for full year.

Re:$1,000,000 / 75 = $tick to a Day Job (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059240)

ya, it's not, on the whole, a lot of money. But considering it's one course (of probably 5), in one term, it's not bad. And they're students, who would be expected to be slow since they well, are still learning after all.

Re:$1,000,000 / 75 = $tick to a Day Job (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059596)

The result of your sum is $13,333.33. I had a year in industry as part of my 4 year degree course and earned £15k (~$30k?). These are comparable because I had to do that year anyway, so anything I made was, well, just great. Would I settle for £15k after leaving university? Hell no. Was I grateful to be earning a little money while gaining experience and credit? Hell yes.

Generated roughly $ in advertising revenue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059202)

This does not result in good apps but another bubble driven by social media oriented applications - Is this at the expense of other ground breaking developments being overlooked because they are not Groupon-like? The drivers of the boom (being social media) might not be sustainable & the bubble may pop! www.1p.com.au

Content not technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059254)

Arguing that there is nothing new here is silly. There was nothing new in Harry Potter or most of the dozens of high grossing movies that will be churned out this year.

People still pay a lot of money for that content. The technology does not matter much. Harry Potter was largely consumed on dead trees, and aside from the generational blip of 3D that is happening now, movies are not technologically that different from 10 years ago or 50 years ago.

The best minds (3, Insightful)

drmofe (523606) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059270)

The best minds of our generation are occupied finding the best ways to leverage advertising revenue.

Re:The best minds (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059282)

The best minds of our generation are occupied finding the best ways to leverage advertising revenue.

Could be worse: at least they're not becoming lawyers.

Amen! (2)

Weezul (52464) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059476)

This.

Wall St. has been giving all the stock broker jobs to geeks.
Advertising jobs are going to geeks.

We might actually create a fairly pleasant world eventually.

There is also the issue that people who don't understand jake shit are being dis-enfranchised, but that might be temporary, i.e. eventually we might create a society in which ignorance of mathematics, science, and programming is widely understood to directly lead to poverty.

Re:Amen! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059512)

stupid.

Re:The best minds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059742)

Pheeewwww !!

Re:The best minds (1)

debrain (29228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060112)

Could be worse: at least they're not becoming lawyers.

Indeed; Heaven forbid our best and brightest pursue a career in advancing the advocation of equality, justice and civility, the rule of law over force, and championship of what is right over the bastion of those with might. If we steer our best and brightest away from professional advocacy, those lawyers we produce will be nothing but mouthpieces, who will exist in want of the wisdom and foresight to advise large corporations and governments of the cataclysmic consequences inherent to short-sighted selfish choices that are systemically repeated throughout history with dire consequence.

Sounds like a plan, said the money.

Re:The best minds (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059306)

The best minds of our generation are occupied finding the best ways to leverage advertising revenue.

I don't see a problem with that as long as that's what they like/want to do.

Re:The best minds (1)

drmofe (523606) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059328)

Sorry, I was lazy and posted before looking up or citing the source [aodmarketing.com]

The point is that when the social media revolution is over, the knowledge that we gained ill be limited to how to optimize large-scale Web servers and database clusters, which we kinda knew to do before the social media revolution took off

Re:The best minds (3, Interesting)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059708)

Why not cite the actual source [smh.com.au] of the claim, rather than the marketing blog that tries to defend against it?

Anyway, the telling quotes from the original article are:

Hammerbacher quit Facebook in 2008, took some time off, and then co-founded Cloudera, a data-analysis software startup.

Unlike one of his more prominent Harvard acquaintances—Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg—Hammerbacher graduated. He took a job at Bear Stearns.

On Wall Street, the math geeks are known as quants. They're the ones who create sophisticated trading algorithms that can ingest vast amounts of market data and then form buy and sell decisions in milliseconds.

So basically, he says that the "brightest minds of a generation" are being squandered targetting ads at users, and that's why he left Facebook. But before he went to Facebook he was a quant, that most hated of evil on /., making money from having a picosecond headstart on the competition. And after he left Facebook, he started Cloudera. Hardly curing all the world's ills is he?

Re:The best minds (2)

joshbosh (814376) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060354)

I don't see a problem with that as long as that's what they like/want to do.

You don't see a problem with a greater amount of humanity's resources being allocated to the production and distribution of propaganda (e.g., advertising)? You don't see a problem with the public basing more and more of their decisions, including medical and political decisions, on propaganda?

Not only do I think it's a problem, I think the severity is so great that the students from K-12 should be required to study propaganda, including its history, philosophy, theory, and practice (e.g., advertising).

Alternative solutions, such as campaign finance reform, treat the symptoms of propaganda, not the root of the problem, which is its efficacy. Furthermore, many of these alternative solutions threaten freedom of speech.

Re:The best minds (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059766)

The best minds of our generation are occupied finding the best ways to leverage advertising revenue.

The article glosses over just how many of those 75 students didn't come up with a hit app.
The business world loves to celebrate success and ignore failure.
Unfortunately, the failure rate for most new businesses is exceedingly high.

thats how you make any product successful (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059284)

Pick one or two features to work on. For the original iPhone it was a real web browser. Windows 95 and nt4 it was the ability to do things in hours that took weeks or months on Novell and unix

Code the rest later little by little

You have to be a fool to think that apple coded the iPhone sdk in the 9 months between the original iPhone and when they announced the app store. It was partly done but not ready for release and the original model won mindshare in the mean time.

Re:thats how you make any product successful (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059334)

In Windows 95 it was the ability to lose weeks of work after defragmenting your hard drive. Yes that happened to me and I discovered Linux very soon after and it has never (so far after 12 years) eaten any of my data. Incidentally what did take weeks or months on Novell or Unix that took hours on Windows 95/NT?

Re:thats how you make any product successful (2)

plut4rch (1553209) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059360)

Incidentally what did take weeks or months on Novell or Unix that took hours on Windows 95/NT?

The period between system restarts?

Re:thats how you make any product successful (1)

rsborg (111459) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059470)

Pick one or two features to work on. For the original iPhone it was a real web browser.

Your comment belies the entire premise of Apple and the iPhone. Apple could have released something years before the iPhone debuted but because of Steve Jobs' monomaniacal push for quality and refinement, what you saw in 2007 was the result of years of work. The iPhone in 2007 had plenty more than a usable web browser, it had an impressive display, multi-touch, a working onscreen keyboard and amazingly good battery life despite all this.

Your analogy was half-baked and non-sensical... but that's what you get when you confuse business models (coding web widgets vs. designing smartphones).

Better, in this case.... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059296)

.....meaning "more profitable". Microsoft is profitable, but I think you'd have a hard time selling the argument that this makes them "better" in any software sense. They are better at making money, and I'm sure plenty of economists would argue that that is the important metric. One of the reasons people pine after the "golden age" of technology is that people who are better at making money are much worse at making something worth the money being paid for it. It's not that the "golden age" actually had products that were great (they weren't), it's that the quality is falling as people divert effort away from engineering as well as they can to promoting as hard as they can.

In the end, a good enough salesman can sell ice to eskimos. A good enough salesman can therefore make money when giving you nothing at all. It's certainly better for the salesman, but how is it better for the consumer? And since companies that produce things are themselves consumers, inferior consumption means inferior output even on the few occasions the companies are being honest and accountable.

For further explanation, please see Isaac Asimov's depiction of how to identify irreversible decay in the Foundation series.

i call bullshit (5, Insightful)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059302)

a university teaches students to create product for a private corporation.

that corporation claims fantastic profits of 1 million dollars, and the professors involved claim a massive educational success.

What the fuck is really going on here? Let's read the fucking article for some clues.

"His team’s app netted $3,000 a day and morphed into a company that later sold for a six-figure sum."

Where have i heard this shit before? Oh yes. 1999. Pets.com. What was behind that tech bubble? It sure as hell wasn't technology, students, or legitimate business activitity. Rather, it was a massive fraud perpetrated by investment bank 'equity research analysts' who were riding a gigantic speculative bubble, which was no different than any other speculative bubble in history, from Tulipmania to the CDO market.

"Venture capitalists also began rethinking their approach. Some created investment funds tailored to the new, bare-bones start-ups."

Ahh yes. The same shitbags who drove VA Linux to become the largest IPO in history, selling shares to the clueless masses. If you want to know what an IPO is, read Running Money by Andy Kessler, and Trading with the Enemy by Nicholas Maier. IPOs like this nothing but a fucking scam. They are the transfer of wealth from the ignorant to the well connected.

I know that 'true techies' like to harsh on Best Buy for selling people 'extended warranties' and Kaspersky's Smirking Douchebag Suite 9.5 but think about it; the IPO scam is no different than what Best Buy does. It sells shit product to ignorant people for profit. It is not much different than from any other street hustle.

Now, let's look at what kind of 'income' these people are bringing in. "Their apps caught on with millions of people and were soon bringing in nearly $100,000 a month in ads."

What kind of ads do you see on facebook? "One tip for a flat belly". "Acai berry revealed". "Obama gives mom's money for college". "Earn your bachelors degree from Diplomamill Subprime University".

The whole fucking edicife of this 'app industry' is propped up by bullshit and intellectual prostitution.

Am I Jealous? Yes I'm fucking jealous. I will sit on my shitty treadmill of a job at my evil corporation where It is timed to the minute when I take a piss and where my email is monitored, and I wish I could make $1000 a day selling 'hug apps' on facebook. Yes I'm jealous.

But I am glad for one thing. At least I understand what I am doing, and why I'm doing it, and don't lie to myself about the true nature of my work.

jesus that was bitter (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059340)

oh well. there's no "delete comment" on slashdot. guess ill go join the ranks of disobey.com and fade into obscure lunatic ranting .

Re:jesus that was bitter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059420)

I liked it.

Sustainable and Responsible Finance (2)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059488)

I liked it too...

One can question the whole issue of graduate / business schools in other ways too:
    http://www.disciplined-minds.com/ [disciplined-minds.com]

And this:
    http://www.responsiblefinance.ch/appeal/ [responsiblefinance.ch]
    http://dublinopinion.com/2011/05/06/an-appeal-from-teachers-and-researchers-of-economics/ [dublinopinion.com]
"The authors of this appeal are deeply concerned that more than three years since the outbreak of the financial and macroeconomic crisis that highlighted the pitfalls, limitations, dangers and responsibilities of main-stream thought in economics, finance and management, the quasi-monopolistic position of such thought within the academic world nevertheless remains largely unchallenged. ... Professors, lecturers and researchers have been entrusted by society with the task of serving the society through their search for a better understanding of reality. Only in this context does academic freedom have a real meaning. ..."

The question is, how repeatable is it for everyone to be in on something at the right time in the right place? How about instead building a world that works for everyone?
    "RSA Animate - 21st century enlightenment "
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AC7ANGMy0yo [youtube.com]
    "RSA Animate - Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us"
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc [youtube.com]

Re:i call bullshit (1)

Shin-LaC (1333529) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059456)

Oh, I hear you. I'm getting an engineering degree, and it's fucking worthless. The best I can hope for is to make a decent living while contributing to the fortunes of people whose life has been and will always be much better than mine.

Essentially, there are three tiers of skills in our present world. The gold tier is entrepreneurship. The people who have it become rich and rule the world. The silver tier is money-twiddling. These people may not be gold, but they are close enough to money that they get rich as well. Then you have nothing, and twenty levels down you have the shit tier, where all the other skills are. We techies can at best aspire to be kings of beggars.

Re:i call bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059674)

Uh, don't let'em think you life is wasted. No matter how much money they make, their destiny is in the grave, just like you and me. A beautiful grave is they are lucky and their kids care to pay for one for the assholes they had for parents. That's assuming they had any kids to start from. Otherwise their DNA will be lost forever and they will FAIL BIG they only thing that really makes sense in life: keeping it going. So, if you want to beat the assholes, go have a few kids, care for them, love them, each them to love themselves and those who love them. And let the universe give to each one what he deserves.

Re:i call bullshit (3, Insightful)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059568)

You seem to need a hug, but given you don't accept hugs, I recomend a book instead

"Rational optimist" by Matt Ridley. Read some of his other books, but this will be a good start.

Re:i call bullshit (1)

Nyder (754090) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059714)

...

Am I Jealous? Yes I'm fucking jealous. I will sit on my shitty treadmill of a job at my evil corporation where It is timed to the minute when I take a piss and where my email is monitored, and I wish I could make $1000 a day selling 'hug apps' on facebook. Yes I'm jealous.

But I am glad for one thing. At least I understand what I am doing, and why I'm doing it, and don't lie to myself about the true nature of my work.

So you sold your soul to an evil corporation, and they instead, sold their morals.

Seems to me like you both lost.

Re:i call bullshit (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059736)

What kind of ads do you see on facebook? "One tip for a flat belly". "Acai berry revealed". "Obama gives mom's money for college". "Earn your bachelors degree from Diplomamill Subprime University".

This says more about what facebook thinks of your demographic than anything else.
If you join groups, 'like' events, or do a number of other things, facebook will start showing you ads related to your interests instead of generic "lose weight" and "go to college" stuff.

Re:i call bullshit (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059922)

Where have i heard this shit before? Oh yes. 1999. Pets.com. What was behind that tech bubble? It sure as hell wasn't technology, students, or legitimate business activitity. Rather, it was a massive fraud perpetrated by investment bank 'equity research analysts' who were riding a gigantic speculative bubble, which was no different than any other speculative bubble in history, from Tulipmania to the CDO market.

We are back to creating something out of nothing by making free apps that do nothing but "generate advertising revenue". Ad impressions already aren't enough for some folks, they need clicks now. And soon they won't just need clicks, they'll need a click and a purchase. Much like a drug user gradually needing more and more stuff to get the same high they got when they first used, advertisers are gradually going to get to the point where they can't get enough revenue to support their marketing strategies - this little college exercise included.

I hope for the sake of these students blowing their parents' college savings on an education that they're picking up knowledge and skills that will still be useful once the advertisers decide they want out of the equation.

Re:i call bullshit (1)

itsenrique (846636) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059962)

Wish I had points, truly insightful.

One tip (1)

drb226 (1938360) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060398)

I am *so* tired of seeing the "1 weird old tip for a flat belly" ad. Not only am I uninterested in losing weight, but this particular tactic loses its potency when I see the exact same phrase over and over.

Good for these students (2)

rrkelleycsprof (2124982) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059310)

I say congrats to these students. Yes, some of these apps are really stupid, but so was the ChiaPet, the pet rock, Lava Lamps, etc. In fact, there have been a lot of stupid products over the years that have made their inventors/developers/etc. millions. This class accomplished exactly what business schools want students to learn: develop a product, find a market, sell the product, make money. From TFA one former student is now employing 30 people and just raised 6 million dollars in venture capital. At least he is now affecting the economy in a positive way by providing jobs. I wish more schools would take risks like this to encourage students to do create businesses. Perhaps a lot of the products will be basic and not technically innovate, but some of them will. And as one person posted, over time as the phone app market matures, silly apps will be less attractive and people will want good games and productivity tools for their phones.

Re:Good for these students (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059376)

I wish more schools would take risks like this to encourage students to do create businesses.

I wish schools would remember that the point is to educate students, and that unless these apps were "CS 101 Homework Assignment #1" they were a waste of academic resources. Imagine what would happen if students were encouraged to create actual innovations, to do ground-breaking research, or to write programs that actually solve real-life problems. Or perhaps giving those students a better background in the theory of computation, so they can work on deep mathematics problems that have broad implications. Or even just teaching them other techniques of programming, programming language design, etc.

There are plenty things we would really benefit from having our computers do, and I assure you that sending hotness points between Facebook users is not one of them.

Re:Good for these students (1)

zigmeister (1281432) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059616)

Right, so what makes a better computer product is just some dude in a lab with exotic mathematics, groundbreaking chemicals, new ways to make magnets etc? This is flagrant bullshit just as much as the "I don't need no stinkin' math n' science" type of thinking is, it's just better disguised. I wish slashdotters (and the rest of the psuedo-intellectual crowd re: I 3 science but I couldn't lift a finger to help cuz you know...) would remember the point to a market is to sell things other people want. That is to say if people are paying money for it, then they probably value it for some reason. Maybe it annoys them less, maybe it looks better, maybe it helps them get shit done, maybe it helps them remember stuff and the list goes on. You know what, you're right there have been some tech bubbles in our short little history but life goes on and if you are dumb enough to get ensnared by one well then you were gonna waste your money somewhere, BS vaporware company was just an outlet. In short if this is really how you think you are going to be very bitter for a very long time. I hope you're not.

Re:Good for these students (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060210)

I wish slashdotters (and the rest of the psuedo-intellectual crowd re: I 3 science but I couldn't lift a finger to help cuz you know...) would remember the point to a market is to sell things other people want.

Or what they're manipulated to want. How much useless junk does the first world create? Do we really need to be consuming all these resources and producing all those crappy products? We're the most wasteful and self-indulgent group of humans the world has ever seen. Let's just hope nanotech and other technologies advance fast enough to make up for copious pollution, depletion of the biosphere, and global warming. Let's hope we can feed 10 billion humans by 2050 or whenever the population maxes out. Let's hope half the world doesn't descend into war over severe water and food shortages. Because otherwise, the next era of humanity (those that make it) will look back at our reckless economic and political philosophies and shake their heads in disbelief.

Re:Good for these students (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059802)

Repeat after me: This. Is. Just. One. Class.

Not that much money (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059598)

That's 1 million USD split 75 ways for roughly 4 months of work.

Congratulations you're making $50/hour.

Re:Not that much money (3, Insightful)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059838)

True, but how much have you been paid by the college classes *you've* taken? I've never taken a college class that paid me 13 thousand dollars in a semester.

HOW DARE THEY??!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060208)

How dare they actually teach students something that shows them has a real-world business benefit. What next - teaching students in high school how to do remedial math WITHOUT calculators? C`mon! Enough already.

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