Last night many of us returned from grabbing drinks with friends here in Austin, opened our computers, and, because of a 9.0 earthquake in Northern Japan, became witness to some of the most horrific imagery we have watched live in our lifetime. To be honest with you it’s sort of difficult to focus on startup launches, the iPad 2 and the swaggy ephemera of the #SXSW tech bubble when images of burning houses and flooded roadways are fresh in our mind.
But still, when I saw people replying to Twitter investor Chris Sacca’s early morning tweet about Hoodlez, a “social messaging app” I quickly dm’d him (yes I fell for it), irrationally seeking any inside info about a service that if it had been real would probably have been the 30th such app that’s come across my radar in the past few weeks.
Yes, Hoodlez does not exist, but that didn’t matter to the 50 or so people seeking invites (I stopped counting after about an hour).
Sacca explained his motivations, “I thought wouldn’t it be funny if I made up a name and and didn’t think it through. But now that I think about it is about the froth and the hype. I would have had gotten fewer clicks if had linked to a site instead of offering invites to the beta.”
As a complimentary experiment in Twitter influence (Sacca has almost 1.3 million followers), Sacca then tweeted out instructions on how to donate to the Red Cross Effort to help Tsunami victims.
And while it did not have nearly the same reaction as the previous one (invites to betas are free after all), the tweet also generated healthy response, with about 30 people donating and 41 retweets at last count. While the whole thing started out as a prank, $250 dollars to charity ain’t bad for something that took 140 characters of effort. Maybe we should all stop checking in for Starbucks coupons and take a second to think about what it really means to social message?
Thanks: Geoff Clapp for coining “Follower Storm.”
Update: Inspired by Sacca’s tweet Dru Wynings has actually built a Hoodlez.com, where you can, yes, donate to the Red Cross Tsunami efforts.