Free Rice - The problem with viral campaigns

A new day, a new site. "Free Rice" this time.

Play vocabulary games and the site will donate 20 grains of rice to the world's hungry via the World Food Program for every question you answer correctly.

The trouble with this site (and many others) is that
a) it is not for profit (how boring!!!)
b) its founders probably think 'oh what a good idea, one day we'll have 10 milion people clicking away and everyone will be well fed as they'll have free rice from our advertisers' (yeah right!!!)

Internet users are bored of such games. Sure, there'll always be 20 geeks in every country in the world that click through and get your rice count up or a few weeks and months, but then what? You've got your press coverage (and obviously, the journalists that do this coverage are just blinded by the simplicity of the idea rather than by its long term potential) and you've got your one minute of fame (okay, maybe 6 months). But now what?

So I checked. At this time, Free Rice seems to be 'donating' 250 million grains of rice everyday. Googling a bit, a kilo of long grain rice (Long grain? Unlikely donation) has about 50K grains, so 250 million grains equate to about 5000 kilograms of rice. Thats 5 metric tons. At about $200 (wild but fair guess) for a metric ton of rice, thats about $1K in advertising revenue donated towards buying rice for the WFP every day.

Thats actually pretty phenomenal for a website thats about a month old.

How long is that going to last? My guess is that this figure is probably going to grow a few times (so maybe $5K a day?) and then its going to slow down...slow down really quick. And then the internet is going to look for its next big fad.

The founders of this site however, are creating a graph in their head. A line chart that rises exponentially every month, until there is no hungry person left in the world.

If only the internet was this easy. If only the world's problems were so easy to solve.

An amazing Amazon review

Since the start of the MBA, we've been trying to be more and more creative in how we present our work - research that involves understanding inflation in China to an analysis of the Fortune 500 companies.

We've done videos, roleplays, songs and a lot more.

Today, however, I found this review (thanks Vineet) that completely shatters any illusion I had built up about our creativity. This review on Amazon - about a Bic pen - is just brilliant brilliant brilliant. It just puts into perspective just how creative - and passionate - some people are.

Read it here.

Keeping professionals in Cincinnati

Kat got quoted in the 'Business Courier' here.

Thinking about some of the things mentioned in comments on that page, I think the challenge before every modern city that seeks to increase the number of professionals living there, is to not only retain the 'loyal' residents - who have stayed in that city for some time already - but also to attract newer residents into making the move.

I think one of the biggest strengths that any city could use are its universities. Universities attract people to a city and I believe that students find it easier to follow their ambition to move to an exciting city than do professionals who mind find moving cities a bigger chore.

However, I can think of many cities that fail to retain the huge and excellent student population they support. It would probably make sense for such cities (like Cardiff, Wales for instance) to offer incentives to businesses to encourage them to set up shop.

On the other hand, I've lived in at least one city where although the business has grown tremendously, its university have not kept pace. Bangalore in India, where much of the offshore IT work is done, is one such example. Of course Bangalore has grown quite quickly over the past decade, but surely, one of the reasons why it is host to so many economic migrants is because it has not realized that much more needs to be invested in its universities.

Interesting issue. And probably one that a lot more thought could be applied to. Hell, we could probably write an Economics paper on this!