It’s a Scam — and You’ll be Murdered!

CJ Cornell
4 min readAug 31, 2021

Product Breakthrough Hysteria

Entrepreneurs — how do you know you’re on to something big?

It’s when the media, and the gurus look at your new product category, and proclaim “It’s a scam! “

Usually it’s followed by predictions that people using your product will either lose their life savings or be hunted down and killed by a stranger.

Now then, if your customers have this reaction then you’re in trouble — but if the ‘experts’ say start wailing these warnings — then you might be on to the next breakthrough product.

Over the past few decades we’ve seen waves of disruptive technologies: New media, the Web, e-commerce, two social media eras; the sharing economy, the gig economy; fin-tech, ed-tech, de-fi, blockchain, crypto, NFTs and every nuance in-between. Each wave started with a cool technology that disrupted an existing industry, and ushered in new mindsets and new behaviors.

While early adopters were fascinated and smitten, the short-sighted thinkers, curmudgeons and media pundits all decried each new platform as a bubble and a scam. They believed that the naive masses needed to be protected from the dangers of using these new technologies.

Here are some real-life comments and criticisms that were said, often and loudly, by the critics:

  • eBay — “Why would you send money to a stranger? They could just take your money and never deliver the product.”
  • Craigslist — “Meet a stranger to buy something from them? You will get robbed and murdered!”
  • AirBnB — “Inviting strangers stay in your home? They could be psychos who will rob and kill your family!”
  • Facebook — “Who would expose and endanger their children by posting family photos online?”
  • Bitcoin — “People can buy drugs with it, or use it for illicit payments” or “It has no value — it’s a scam.”
  • Online Dating — “Meet up with someone you only just met online? You can get raped and murdered!”
  • Artificial Intelligence — “Intelligent robots will take over the world and kill us all — or at least enslave us.”
  • Uber — “Who would get into a car driven by a stranger? You can get abducted and murdered!
  • Online degrees — “A scam, and not worth the paper they’re printed on.”
  • Crowdfunding — “It’s like online panhandling; strangers scamming money from other strangers.”

Are you noticing a common theme?

Of all those fearful predictions, none really ever came true. But shrill warnings are not exclusive to the high-tech era. Critics even warned people about the introduction of the first telephones:

  • Don’t stand near a phone when there’s a thunderstorm or you might get hit by lightning (through the wire).
  • “unscrupulous salesmen will call your home and scam you out of your money …” (ok — well the verdict is still out on this one )
  • and of course, “strangers can call your home, and will know that you’re not home — then they will come and steal everything you own”

Yeah, experts and pundits really did say these things.

The message is usually the same for breakthrough products and new product categories: If everyday people use them, they will lose their life savings, or worse, end up dead. The implication is that the technology needs to be banned, eliminated, or regulated.

So, if you are having trouble understanding why people would use a particular new technology — check your ego and check your assumptions. You just might be the one behind the curve now.

And, if you’re an entrepreneur with a breakthrough product, and critics are decrying it as a deadly scam — take heart: You just might be on to something big.

CJ Cornell is a serial entrepreneur, investor, advisor, mentor, author, speaker, and educator. As an entrepreneur, CJ Cornell was a founder of more than a dozen successful startup ventures that collectively attracted over $250 million in private funding; created nearly a thousand new jobs; and launched dozens of innovative consumer, media, and communications products — that have exceeded $3 billion in revenues.

He is the author of the bestsellingThe Age of Metapreneurship — A Journey into the Future of Entrepreneurship.”

And the upcoming “The Startup Brain Trust — A Guidebook for Startups, Entrepreneurs, and the Mentors that Help them Become Great.”

Follow him @cjcornell or visit:



CJ Cornell

Professor of #Entrepreneurship & Digital Media. Serial/Parallel Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, Mentor, Angel Investor, #VC. Crowdfunding & #Startups Evangelist