A Lesson in Startup-Focused Satire

This week I’m working on sharpening my satire chops, since Dead SULs is supposed to be funny. (Yeah, it’s not really making me laugh right now either.) I thought I’d take a moment on the blog to pick and then pick apart an unwitting company of the ilk I’m trying to invoke in the book.

Here’s the online description for Truvie, a San Francisco-based startup operating out of the tech incubator Dogpatch Labs:

We’re a passionate team working on a building out-of-the-box hyper local solutions that will shape the future of web and mobile fraud detection, targeted advertising and content geo-fencing.

Wha?? I wish I’d made up any of the above, but it’s all sic, in at least the editorial sense. See, finding humor in the tech startup scene is easy, but how do you top the truth when it’s already so funny?

Let me try to unpack this, as a kind of self-tutorial in writing satire. First of all the fact that the company’s logo reminds of a mass-market sugar substitute. Second, the inclusion of almost every current tech-bubble buzzword except “cloud,” “crowdsourcing,” and “curation.” Finally, even after reading this description I have no idea what Truvie actually does, although there is a vague Spy vs. Spy-but-with-cellphones connotation that I quite like.

To me the fulcrum of satire pivots around the distance between what Germans call schein and sein, namely, how things appear to be and what they actually are. In the startup world this fulcrum gets a little extra torque from the inherent remove between the world of websites and reality; in the former things are design-y and shiny and bright, and in the real world? Well, they often don’t  even exist. As Truvie says on its launch page:

We’d love to tell you more and have you share in the fun, but we’re not quite ready just yet. So leave us your email and we’ll be in touch.

Of course I left them my email.

Oh and in case these guys turn out to be the next Google, let me just issue my mea culpa now: I always knew Truvie was gonna be big!

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