I’m posting this a little early today, but it’s important. My sister called me last night to ask me about something called iJingo – The Center Of The Online Universe. Apparently, a family member has bought into this new venture and told her about the amazing opportunity she could have to get in on the ground level of the next Google. I was interested to hear what she had to say, being as I hadn’t heard anything about this “next big thing” before her call. Sadly, once she started describing it to me, I instantly recognized the ugly stain of a multilevel marketing / pyramid scheme / ponzi scheme.
Basically, iJingo is claiming to have patented an amazing new technology that will revolutionize the way we use the Internet. In reality, they’ve merely cloned iGoogle – but, to their credit, they’ve made it a little sleeker. Their tantalizing sales pitch offers you riches beyond your wildest dreams for the simple and affordable investment of $150 dollars up front, followed by a $20 monthly service fee for what they call “the back office”. How will it make you money, you ask? Simple, they reply! Every time you use the Internet, you’re making someone money. If you do a Google search, then Google gets paid. When you use Facebook, the Facebook folks are getting a few clams. When you go to YouTube, Yahoo, MySpace, etc… all of those companies are making money. iJingo, they say, will let you take a slice of that enormous, cash-filled pie!
All you have to do is join up with your $170 dollars and then set about recruiting more people to become your buzzwordy “downliners” – ie, other suckers you convince to pay into the pyramid scheme. The money, iJingo claims, comes in from you paying to use their Internet portal, which you then turn around and give it away for free on the Internet. For everyone who uses your portal to access web content, you’ll get a slice of that revenue pie. It sure sounds good, I guess. At least, it sounds great to people who aren’t very familiar with how the Internet and e-commerce work, or who simply don’t want to risk passing up a chance to get in on the ground floor of the next Internet success story. However, if it sounds too good to be true…
iJingo is a scam, pure and simple. It’s a classic scam dressed up with technobabble and jargon that makes it sound plausible. Of course companies like Google and Facebook make money from people using their free services, and everyone knows that e-commerce is HUGE. If, for example, you could get just 1% of the total revenue generated on the Internet, you’d be set for the rest of your life. It sounds like it might work. It has that common sense believability that usually gets people into trouble. The whole problem with the notion that you could somehow get paid for driving traffic to places like Google or Facebook with your iJingo portal is that it doesn’t make any real sense. Let me explain: free sites make money from ad revenue generated by the ads that line their pages. They have the massive traffic levels to drive serious income from per-view exposure and on-click units. However, they’re not gearing up to give any of it to you.
Here’s how the real game works on the real Internet: Google owns AdSense, and people opt-in to the advertising program by signing up and installing the AdSense code on their site. This allows AdSense to place advertisements on their pages, and the AdSense algorithms dynamically place context-appropriate ads. (Although, in practice, the results are sometime hilarious – but that’s a whole other topic.) Meanwhile, advertisers pay Google to run their ads. Some of the ads generate small amounts of money per-view, but most of them only pay for on-click traffic. This means that a user needs to both see the ad and click it before any money changes hands. Once an ad is clicked, Google charges the advertiser for the exposure and then takes a percentage of that revenue and deposits it into the account of the publisher hosting the ad. Google keeps the rest of the money.
With that in mind, why would Google suddenly decide to let you come between them and their money? Why do you deserve a share of a revenue stream you’re not contributing to? To extend my example, let’s use Coquetting Tarradiddles for the sake of argument. I have AdSense ads on this site. They function as described above: if someone clicks one, Google gets money from the advertiser and pays me a small percentage of that fee. Now, along comes iJingo and their “amazing” portal that will allow anyone to put my site onto their portal page. Then, somebody uses that portal to access my site, where they find an ad and click it. Somehow, iJingo has managed to convince people that I would now owe the portal user some money. Why? Because they drove traffic to my site? I didn’t ask them to. I didn’t agree to anything or opt-in to any service, and I have no obligation to divert a portion of my advertising revenue to anyone other than Google, who is the one selling the advertising units in the first place. This is the key to understanding why iJingo is a ponzi scheme. There is no revenue stream other than the money coming in from people buying into the program. Their proposed business model is no different than believing that you could sell someone your television set and somehow be paid for all of the advertisements they end up watching on it. It’s a lunatic proposal, but the bigger the lie…
iJingo will be quick to point out that there are other multilevel marketing schemes that have been around for years and aren’t scams. They’ll cite Amway, Avon, and Mary Kay Cosmetics. The problem with these examples is that yes, they are MLM ventures – but they are, in fact, selling products. They’re crazy and horrible ways to invest your money, but there is the possibility of a revenue stream via the sale of merchandise. iJingo has nothing to sell, nothing to leverage, nothing to speculate, nothing to bring in any money other than the financial investments of all the poor suckers they manage to con into playing along.
If you’ve already plopped down your $150 + $20, then I advise you to get out now, while you can. If you can. You might have even seen a good initial return on your investment, if you’ve been busily recruiting new schmucks into the scheme. This is one of the short term benefits of a ponzi con, because some people really can make disproportionately large sums of money near the beginning of the venture. The problem is, most of this money doesn’t usually exist anywhere – and, if it does, it’s hardly liquid. Once confidence in the scheme begins to falter, if you’re able to get any of your money back at all, you’ll have to compete with the hordes of other disillusioned investors for the limited pool of cash that’s actually there. It’s kind of like having a run on the banks, where everyone finds out that there’s no money in the vault, and that the banker has skipped town to live an expatriated life of luxury in a foreign land with no extradition treaty.
So anyway, this concludes my emergency posting. If you need more convincing, try thinking a couple of things over. First, iJingo is set to have their spectacular launch event in the next few days, yet the media has absolutely no coverage of this revolutionary new technology. Second, iJingo has gone through enormous trouble to spam the search engines in an apparent attempt to stifle dissenting viewpoints to their own, although they haven’t been entirely successful. Third, remember your Internet history. Companies make it big on the Internet by coming up with a novel and marketable idea, and finding some venture capitalists to invest in its development. Then, they bring everything on-line and give it away for free. They use advertising income to generate revenue as they grow, and they eventually IPO and offer initial shares at rates reflective of their service’s popularity, after which they leave the company and either start up a new venture, or go to their high school reunions to rub their geek dollars in the jocks’ faces. Sometimes both.
What they don’t do is sell a pyramid structure of investment and ask that you then go recruit downliners that will feed you and everyone higher up on the food chain. They don’t ask that you get in early by tantalizing you with the notion that, if you invest quickly, you will occupy a powerful seat of authority and wealth along with the other early adopters, who all have an endless army of downliners constantly feeding them unearned cash. No, real companies have real strategies that don’t involve bilking investors of their cash through false promises and hollow claims. Real companies succeed or fail based on the merit and popularity of their products and services, not on a revenue stream that is dependent on the gullibility of hardluck people hoping to turn a quick buck in an increasingly stressful economic climate.
But don’t take my word for it. Go check out these links and make up your own mind. Just remember to come back here and tell me how right I was, after it all blows up in your face.
Good luck to you. If you’re in, get out. If you’re out, don’t get in. Simple, really.