Sometimes, being vicious is necessary, especially for early stage founders. Here, I share a few stories of how companies were vicious in their approach to acquiring users.
Reddit faked comments in the early days.
Youtube & Vkontakte hosted pirated content knowingly.
In the early days, iOS apps juiced their valuations with vanity invite metrics that entailed invite-walls that juiced downloads to access full functionality of apps. (invite 50 people to use full app features). Some of these were acquired for 8 figures plus.
Paypal created a bot that bought goods on eBay and then, insisted on paying for it using PayPal.
Rentoid bought and rented the items themselves.
Dating networks seed enough fake accounts on both sides to start the demand.
AirBnB allegedly created a bot & fake email addresses that would automatically respond to posts on Craigslist.
Marc Benioff of SalesForce hired fake protesters to disrupt his biggest rival’s conference and commandeered all the taxis at the event to deliver a 45-minute pitch about his own product. In another instance, he cancelled his keynote at the Oracle Conference and drew crowds to his own speech at a nearby restaurant.