Don’t overhype your company

It is on the newswire today-Cometa Networks, the wi-fi service provider backed by IBM, AT&T, and Intel, is shutting down. There is much analysis out there discussing the merits of the business and what went wrong. In a recent News.com piece, analysts discuss how Cometa did not build critical mass quickly enough to make the economics work. Rather than focus on what went wrong, what strikes me about Cometa Networks is not the business or market it was going after, but the hype and attention it drew to itself way before its service was even in operation. It was all over the news (well done, by the way), but the problem is that it promised too much and never delivered. At the very least, if you are going to hype yourself, make sure you can deliver relatively quickly to capitalize on the buzz. When you have a grandiose launch you set high expectations for your company. As my colleague, Ben Tanen, put it, "they would have to be the next generation phone company" to deem their execution worthy of their launch. Anything short of that and they would be deemed a failure. Of course, this puts a ton of pressure on the team to deliver and exceed expectations. Along those lines, it even seems that the company was quite aggressive in its dealings with business partners, acting like a market leader even without a network (see Sky Dayton's comments on wifinetnews). Call me understated, but I prefer my companies to "underhype and overdeliver" rather than "overhype and underdeliver." So whether Cometa was a victim of the market or not, the way it was launched, one could claim it was a victim of its overambitious start. Even if they succeeded bit by bit they would have been seen as an underperfomer as it would have taken them years and a ton of capital to meet the hype that they generated from the initial launch.

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