This pattern — “success” based on forecasted future success instead of current success — shows up all over in the tech-business press. Instead of dead simple metrics like “they make more money than they spend” we see stuff like “user count growth” and “followers” and “impressions” and “friends” and “visits” qualify success. Whenever you see someone piling big numbers into made up metrics, it’s a diversion. They want you to think that this time it’s different. But like Judge Judy says, “If it doesn’t make sense it isn’t true.”

Jason does a great job dissecting a recent NYT piece called “Using Free to Turn a Profit.” Figuring out how to take an product and make money from it should be simple. Find something that people want to pay money for, build it, collect the money. He’s blown away that his partner David’s classic Startup School talk got the reception it did. The basic message of the talk is as old as business itself, “Come up with a product, charge money for it, make more money than it costs to run it, and you turn a profit!” Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But I’m amazed at how revolutionary it sounds when you try to apply it to what you’re doing every day.