Web companies fooled by the B.S. Generator

At a typical office job in the 21st Century, you are guaranteed to come into contact with a number of individuals who have no idea what they are talking about. Of course, that doesn't mean that they cannot pretend they are intelligent.

Sometimes this happens unintentionally, when people use ridiculously large words without knowing what they mean. Inventing new words can be a good option too. If the listener has never heard the new word or phrase, it's probably because he or she isn't aware of the iterate distributed communities or hasn't been able to productize innovative functionalities.

And combining the two types mentioned above leads to total B.S. For example, take a look at the last paragraph. What the hell does that last sentence mean? In the technology business, it means that I must be completing ground-breaking research on futuristic technology that no one has dared to examine. In reality, though, I'm just using the B.S. generator, started by dack.com.

In an email interview, Dack said he gave birth to the generator in January 2000 because he was "increasingly bewildered and amused by the new bull____ language that was emerging from web-related publications and pre-dotbomb companies in the late '90s." It's pretty easy to use, too; just go to the site, hit the Make B.S. button, and great words that mean nothing will appear.

It's so easy to use that I decided to see if web development companies from around the country could distinguish between real business deals and B.S. In November, I emailed 10 dev businesses, found mostly through Google searches, with a request to meet about acquiring their companies. The email was basic: I mentioned something unique about the company, a proposition about doing business and a sentence that contained three B.S.-generated phrases. I created a Yahoo address and used the name Marie-Elise Fausse for two reasons. First, I said I was from France, and second, "Fausse" means "false" in French. Put all of this together and you get something like this:

To whom it may concern,

Congratulations on (something unique about the company here)! I have reviewed the press release and researched your website, which is impressive as well. I represent a technology firm that has an overseas headquarters (in France), and we are are looking at potentially acquiring an Internet marketing company in the United States . The business must be able to deliver to vertical markets, as well as transition web-enabled channels and generate clicks-and-mortar infrastructures, among other technology-related issues. The web division of the company is currently being created, and from what I understand, the domain that we will be using is webexpert.com. Since I am conducting a preliminary investigation at this time, I cannot delve too deeply into the details. But we like what we have seen from (company name) so far, and I can assure you it is one of our top candidates, if a sale can be considered. Please let me know the feasibility of moving forward with this, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Marie-Elise Fausse

You should be able to quickly pick out the generated sentence. If not, I'm still looking to purchase web development firms in the U.S.

So, surely companies wouldn't fall for this, right? Well ... out of the 10 businesses I contacted, I received responses from six. And three of those companies said "no" and left it at that. This leaves us three that in my opinion, were completely fooled by my email.

Emagine is a dev company with its headquarters in Taunton, Mass. Here's the email I received from the CEO.

Marie-Elise,

Thank you for inquiry. At this time we are not actively pursuing an acquisition strategy. We are in a period of record growth and feel that our true value will be realized over the next 18 to 36 months.

That being said, we are always open to discussion.

1) What size company are you looking to acquire?

2) What verticals are you looking to pursue?

3) What is your acquisition budget?

4) What size company do you represent?

If you could answer the above questions we can get a better idea if this may be worth discussing further.

Thank you.

Brett Cohen

CEO

Emagine

I never responded to this inquiry, nor any others, because I obviously didn't want to buy a dev company. Besides, it was humorous enough to see the responses.

The next case is TruePresence, self-proclaimed as an Internet marketing firm in Baltimore. A little disclaimer here: I used to work for this company and left on my own terms. Nevertheless, I used the generic email address on the website and received this message:

Dear Marie-Elise Fausse,

I am the owner of TruePresence, which is a franchisor of internet marketing services. We have an interest in growing internationally with a strategic partner so possibly there is some synergy between our companies' goals. Please call me at 410-XXX-XXXX at your convenience.

Wait, did he use the generator on me? It's feasible, and maybe that's why he gave me his office number, so we could B.S. each other via phone conference.

Finally, JanMedia is a dev company located in D.C. The original email, although lengthy, seemed rational, given the fact that I was sending an email from a Yahoo address with hardly any information:

Dear Marie-Elise,

I have been forwarded your email. I appreciate the kind words about our work and the good wishes we have received and I extend my warm regards to you as well.

At Janmedia it is our policy that in all matters of business significance such as any matters regarding affiliations, partnerships, the valuation of our company and insight as to our operations we require transparency as to who we are communicating with.

This in turn, forces us to require that in any business dealings or conversations that are strategic in nature we must ask that communications be sent from a non-anonymous email address, from a party we can confirm. Our policy is necessitated by the fact that we must know that partnership and affiliation discussions are of serious nature, and unfortunately private email accounts such as Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail do not necessitate the transparency necessary to discuss matters of importance.

I will be happy to find out more about your company's plans in the US , for at a minimum we are always open to setting up closer relationships with international partners. In order to proceed with any conversations I will need to know your professional email address and phone number so as to facilitate two way transparency necessary for such communications. I hope you understand that our requirement is standard by nature towards professional enquiries and you will agree that it is reasonable. I wish you well and I look forward to hearing from you.

Mati Makagon / Janmedia

As usual, I didn't respond. A week later, I received this:

Dear Marie-Elise,

I responded to your email on November 12th. Please kindly confirm that you have received my response. Thank you.

Mati Makagon / Janmedia

For someone who was daftly concerned about privacy, I was surprised that he responded again, without me sending an email back.

So what did we learn from this? First, Marie-Elise Fausse owns a large portion of U.S. web development companies now. Seriously though, it's rather distressing to me that even people within web technologies cannot see that the email I sent is no more than a glorified Nigerian scam. True, I didn't ask for money, so maybe it's not quite that bad. I suppose we're just in an age where the better you are at B.S.ing, the more business you'll receive. So keep the generator handy, and someday soon, you'll own an entire conglomerate of companies!

Before I forget, here's the list of the other companies I contacted:

"No thanks" or "I've passed your info along" emails:

LeapFrog Interactive

New Signature

PenTeleData

Companies not responding (either the email got lost or they don't respond to "serious" inquiries):

Advance Design Interactive

Q-Industries

Venice Consulting Group

WSPG

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