That’s an intriguing question.
It applies to personal relationships and business matters alike. I suspect the recent slippage in mainstream media readership has been a function of a loss of trust.
This question has repercussions for other corporate relationships you may have, too.
Consider: Apple (AAPL) can get away with a snafu like the iPhone pricing issue, because it has earned the trust, even the adoration, of its users. Could you imagine having that trust with Microsoft (MSFT)?
Dell used to have that trust, but frittered it away, as they moved from one of the best to much worse customer service in the PC space. AOL also — they’ve decayed, become a garbage service for the clueless. (AIM remains mostly worthwhile).
Google (GOOG) has earned my confidence, and — so far — has not given me any reason to reconsider that trust.
Yahoo (YHOO) still has some residual trust — but its waning fast. I still use Yahoo as a home page, but their inattentiveness to some of their properties is shameful. They have a very, very brief period to right the ship, or their long horrific slide into irrelevancy will be irreversible. Yahoo has frittered away so many good properties, I find it embarrassing. (WhoTF is advising them?)
I run across an inordinate amount of spam in anything Yahoo related (think Hotmail, circa 2001). My office IM is Trillian, and I come in each morning to at least one, often more, Yahoo IM spams. (WTF? Can’t you stop that?) Lots of blog comment spam is via a Yahoo email address. And what was once a grand experiment in investor democracy — the message boards — decayed into a haven for spammers, scammers, or worse. Shameful wastage. This should have been aggressively attacked 5 years ago.
Which leads me to this morning’s topic: Trusting new companies with your personal data.
Some time ago, I explained in painful detail Why I Don’t Do Social Networking Sites. The short version is, I don’t trust these companies with my data. And I don’t trust that their VC backers or a judge at any bankruptcy hearing to treat my personal data the way they would want their 16 year old daughters to be treated.
The latest reminder of this involves Scoble and Facebook. For those of you who may be unfamiliar, Scoble is a nice enough fellow who I refused to read back when he was working as Microsoft’s Leni Riefenstahl. I know too much about the evil empire to acquiesce to a warm fuzzy face being placed on them.
Which brings me back to our topic today, that of Trust.
I am naturally skeptical. I see too much bullshit everywhere. Hence, I believe Trust is something that must be earned, not given away. Not demanded, not assumed, but actually earned. Especially if you are a startup company, with enormous access to lots and lots of very personal data. These firms should have to earn your confidence. They have gotten carte blanche so far, but I suspect the era of blind faith is coming to an end.
Ask yourself these questions: Who do I trust? Who can I rely on, confide in, bank on, have faith in?
Who do you read? Who do you let get inside your head? Who do you believe? Who are you sure about?
What companies do you entrust with your personal files and passwords? Your social security number, bank account data, personal financial info, data?
Who do you trust?
And, who trusts you back . . .?