People say a TV show or company has “jumped the shark” when that TV show or company resorts to desperate measure in order to maintain its popularity. The term comes from an episode of “Happy Days” when everybody goes skiing and the Fonz actually jumps a shark. The show didn’t last much longer.
Here at the office, we’ve been joking around about how these days “jumping the shark” — or having a blowhard journalist yell that one has — is basically the best thing that can happen to a startup.
Want proof? Here are three of our favourite examples:
Blowhard journalist: Ben Hammersley, The Guardian.
Date: March 31, 2005
Google, it seems, has jumped the shark. It has been overtaken, left standing, and not by some new startup of ultra smart MIT alumni or by the gazillions in the Microsoft development budget, but by the deeply unhip and previously discounted Yahoo.
Since then: Google’s cemented its place as tech’s most powerful company, earning billions per year. After countless re-orgs and a botched merger with Microsoft, Yahoo is on its third CEO
Blowhard journalist: Josh Quittner, Fortune
Date: December 4, 2007
A lot of people say that Facebook has jumped the shark. That’s flat out wrong. In fact, Facebook is now being devoured by the shark. There’s so much blood in the water, it’s attracting other sharks. And if Facebook’s not careful, one of them is bound to come along and finish it off. I’ve never seen anything like it in the annals of fast-rising tech companies that fail.
Since then: Two months before Josh wrote his article, Facebook hit 50 million monthly active users. In August 2008, Facebook hit 100 million. It reached 150 million in January and 175 million last week.
Blowhard journalist: Mark McKinnon, The Daily Beast
Date: February 27, 2009
This week in Washington D.C., Twitter jumped the shark when, to great fanfare, members of the mainstream-media elite announced they had been baptized and would from now on be holding forth from Twitterdom, and then members of Congress Twittered President Obama’s speech. This from Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas): “Aggie basketball game is about to start on espn2 for those of you that aren’t going to bother watching pelosi smirk for the next hour.”
Since then: After growing 752% in 2008, Twitter grew another 33% in February.