[Screenshot of the cartoon showcase page we did for Rackspace etc.]
I’ve started writing a book about gapingvoid’s experience working with Rackspace. Here are some initial thoughts, some more formed than others:
i. WE’VE LEARNED A TON IN THE PROCESS.
I thought I’d share what we’ve learned about Rackspace along the way, about how this small little web-hosting company from San Antonio, Texas turned their unique take on “just being social” into a billion-dollar business.
ii. CAN A BILLION-DOLLAR COMPANY ACTUALLY BE “SOCIAL”?
I know. Right?
We’ve all been bombarded with the Social Media catchphrases, we’ve all seen the hype spewing out of every Internet orifice out there, we’ve heard every cliché and platitude known to man, we’ve all rolled our eyeballs.
The number of people calling themselves “Social Media Gurus” on Twitter numbers over a hundred thousand. “Business is Social!” “Join the conversation!” “Don’t sell, engage!”
“Hire me!” “I’m available for consultation!” “Write me a big, fat check and I’ll solve all your Social Media problems!”
Like I said, we’ve all rolled our eyeballs.
And yet… what if it actually works?
iii. “DEATH BY COMMODITY”.
Rackspace basically sells a commodity i.e. web hosting and cloud services.
They basically sell a lot of ones and zeroes, that they move through a lot of pipes, back and forth between their customers and their servers.
Not sexy, and highly competitive. What’s more, they’re competing with a lot of blue chip companies A LOT Larger than them: Amazon, Microsoft, IBM etc
It’s an easy place to get your lunch eaten by the big boys.
It’s an easy environment to be killed in.
And yet, they thrive.
iv. THE SECRET WEAPON: “FANATICAL SUPPORT” THE CREATION MYTH.
Two young guys start a web-hosting company, with Graham Weston as an investor. Graham gets an email from an irate customers. “Guys, we have to offer our customers Fanatical Support or this isn’t going to work. An ethos is born…
v. SOME MORE IDEAS TO PLAY WITH:
“IF YOU LOVE YOUR CUSTOMERS ENOUGH, YOU WILL HAVE A GREAT PRODUCT, END OF STORY…”
“DON’T TALK TO ME ABOUT R.O.I., TALK TO ME ABOUT HOW WHAT WE”RE DOING IS ACTUALLY BEING HELPFUL TO OUR CUSTOMERS.”
“HOW THE OPEN CLOUD CHANGES EVERYTHING”
HIRE THE CRAZIES e.g. SCOBLE, LA GESSE, MACLEOD
“A SHOPPING MALL CAN BECOME A CASTLE”
“COMMODITY? ODDITY? OR BOTH?
“PRODUCT IS THE PEOPLE…”
“TAKE HUMAN BITES”
“LEADERSHIP IS ABOUT CREATING MEANING, NOT TELLING THEM WHAT TO DO”
“RACKSPACE HAS TO BECOME A PLACE WHERE PEOPLE’S HIGHEST NEEDS ARE MET, OR WE’RE WASTING OUR TIME.”
“IT’S WHAT RACKSPACE MUST BECOME THAT’S INTERESTING. IT’S WHAT ALL BUSINESS MUST BECOME THAT’S EVEN MORE INTERESTING.”
[To be continued…]
[UPDATE:] Rob La Gesse, the guy who hired me at Rackspace (and also hired Robert Scoble) left the following comment below:
I’ll be interested in seeing how this series progresses. Not sure everyone here knows this, but I don’t vet Hugh’s work?—?I see it when you see it. And that is pretty cool to me. I experience his work when you do. No preconceptions.
Yep. It’s what makes it fun- he lets me just post stuff without getting pre-approval. We like doing that way because it lets him see the work for the first time in the wild, which keeps the thinking fresher, somehow….
Hugh – I always love talking to you about “big ideas”. You help me think different and that is your real magic. The cartoons are just gravy on the potatoes.
Love the cartoons but love the riffing a hell of a lot more.
I’ll be interested in seeing how this series progresses. Not sure everyone here knows this, but I don’t vet Hugh’s work – I see it when you see it. And that is pretty cool to me. I experience his work when you do. No preconceptions.
> Like I said, we’ve all rolled our eyeballs.
> And yet… what if it actually works?
We didn’t roll our eyes because we didn’t think it would work. We rolled our eyes because to the people making such claims, these were generally meaningless words.
Hugh, love the new book about not sucking. This post here gave me something else to shoot for. To be able to do work that’s solid enough to post without pre-approval. Thanks!