AUSTIN — Thirty years ago, a nation collectively rallied around the most basic of human truths: Play fair. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody.
They were lessons from the title essay of a book called "All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten" by Robert Fulghum, which became a phenomenal No. 1 New York Times bestseller for readers apparently in search of The Simplest Way to Navigate Reality.
Sure it was trite, and saccharine sweet, and nothing comparable to the philosophical writings of an idealist like Hegel or mystic like Gurdjieff. And yet, today, there's nothing more appropriate than to suggest that everyone chill the hell out and go re-read it.
Let's Grow Up
Remember the genie we weren't supposed to let out of the bottle? And that box of Pandora's ... the one we weren't supposed to open?
Well, we've done both over the course of this fractured US Presidential election. Now behavior that once seemed unkind is status quo and really, truly anything goes.
Case in point: Yesterday as 13,000 data enthusiasts descended on Austin for Tableau’s annual user conference, they were greeted by representatives from competitor Domo, a startup that claims it can help companies get "meaningful value from business data."
The Segway-riding Domo reps were wearing red t-shirts exclaiming, “Escape (Tableau) Data Hell.”
Come to Our Party, Tableau Fans
But it’s not just the in-your-face t-shirts that caught the attention of Tableau’s data wrangling crowd.
The Tableau enthusiasts were also offered donuts and free tickets to two private concerts Domo is sponsoring. The first one, last night, featured rapper Flo Rida. Snoop Dogg is scheduled to play tomorrow night.
Tonight, Domo will host a beer crawl.
That’s quite a party and a big pile of money to spend on a conference that doesn’t even belong to you.
But, hey, you know. Grab 'em with some goodies. It's OK.
Except it's not.
Oh, Domo ... No
Domo founder and CEO Josh James must know this. But he's apparently justifying his dubious outreach on the grounds of survival in a competitive space, with a little bit of "they started it" for good measure.
@SuMarMoK @domotalk very sorry if we offended you. All in good fun. They got us first. So we smiled and responded. https://t.co/g0e0K5E7RR— Josh James (@joshjames) November 8, 2016
The jury will be out on this one for quite a while — longer, in fact, than it will likely deliberate the snarky message Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield sent to Microsoft last week through a full page ad in the New York Times. In a sarcastic "Dear Microsoft" letter addressing the launch of Slack competitor Microsoft Teams, Butterfield noted he was "genuinely glad to have some competition," but also offered some "friendly advice."
"All this is harder than it looks."
While it's easy to vacillate between awe and embarrassment over his shameless audacity, more reasoned thinking makes one thing clear.
Damn we've become a nasty society. And not in a good "Nasty Woman" way.
Can't We All Get Along?
Domo's tactic beats anything Salesforce founder Marc Benioff and Oracle founder Larry Ellison have ever done, and they have had a keen rivalry.
It's unlikely that Tableau will try to bite back during its conference beyond trying to keep distractions at a minimum. CMSWire has an uncorroborated report that one Tableau Conference attendee was aggressively pursued by a Domo representative. And while imagining a red-shirted rep on a Segway, racing after a conference attendee to give away donuts and tickets is curiously intriguing, it is also something else.
Sophomoric. But who even notices?
Stunts vs. Issues
After months of surviving wars of words and incendiary talk from the highest echelons of American society, we've lost our collective compass. We're tired. We're jaded.
And we get so lost in stunts and hyperbole that we miss having valid discussions about real issues.
Take Domo, for instance.
While James might spin this some other way, there is a definite frustration among some business intelligence (BI) and analytics vendors who are struggling to differentiate themselves in a very crowded space. Forrester analyst Boris Evelson noted in a tweet last week that there were 67 BI vendors to include in a report that he was writing. “No way can the market support that many,” he wrote.
Domo knows that.
But come on, guys. Play nice. Don't try to get ahead by taking something that's not yours ... like the thunder from someone else's conference.