Corporate power is often maligned these days. But last night, as I was being introduced to Grumpy Cat, the fact that corporations will get the lion’s share of revenue from this viral sensation was oddly comforting — almost quaint.
It was Sunday night, just before bed, and my two daughters had something they absolutely had to show me on the Internet. It was Grumpy Cat.
Grumpy Cat goes viral
This cat has become a viral online sensation because it happens to have an unusual face that makes it look like it’s frowning. Humorous videos and pictures posted of this cat now get thousands of hits almost instantly. Grumpy Cat is meme. Grumpy Cat is a guest on TV shows. Grumpy Cat has merchandise. Grumpy Cat has pet food endorsements. I don’t know for sure, but I am guessing Grumpy Cat has made its owners more money than a typical doctor would make in a lifetime.
The Next Big Thing
It got me to thinking about an economy in which someone might strike it rich just by stumbling upon the right obscure, cute thing to distract everyone’s attention.
I imagine there are people all over the country right now searching for fuzzy animals with anthropomorphic qualities, hoping they will be the next Grumpy Cat owner. Why is anthropomorphism so popular on the Internet?
Has the world been flipped upside down? Is this what society has come to, where wealth is made by anthropomorphic viral internet sensations rather than real productivity (or at least something that vaguely resembles productivity)?
Some things haven’t changed
Then I heaved a huge sigh of relief when I reminded myself that Google, Inc. and Nestlé (owner of Purina, maker of Friskies cat food, now endorsed by Grumpy Cat instead of Morris) will make much more money off Grumpy Cat than its owners will. Just as Nike, Inc. made much more money off Michael Jordan than the company paid him for the endorsement.
Some things thankfully haven’t changed. It is still a better bet to invest in stocks than in finding another Grumpy Cat.
Betting with the house
It is analogous to a casino or a lottery. Sure, you could get lucky in Vegas. Sure, you could win the lottery. But we all know it is much better to play the house where the math is on your side. Buying stocks, such as Google, is like playing the house with Grumpy Cat’s YouTube revenue. When the next Grumpy Cat comes along, Google will get a cut of that too.
Old fashioned investing in stocks and bonds is still the way to go, mathematically speaking. As I watched Grumpy Cat and thought of her newly minted millionaire owners, this was comforting to me.
Image by Paul Anderson