A group of investors has just launched a website called Disaboom.
Don’t mistake this for a website that has people with disabilities primarily in mind. This is a marketing and investment opportunity, and not a very good one. If you don’t believe me, take a look at this language on the “About” page (the italics are my emphasis):
Disaboom.com is the revolutionary solution to the difficulties faced by an untapped market of more than 650 million adults worldwide living with disabilities
the first online company dedicated to providing a comprehensive resource to meet this market’s specific needs with customized expertise.
From the Investors/Overview page:
There are more than 100 million adults worldwide living with disabilities or functional limitations today. Founded and designed by doctors and fellow Disaboomers to meet this untapped market[’s] . . .
I don’t know about you, but I always resent being referred to as “this market”. Disaboom’s backers are ready and willing to serve all those vendors who are already bombarding “this market” in TV ads, through the AARP, online, and in targeted ads in doctors’ offices and lifestyle magazines. Getting that ad revenue will benefit Disaboom’s investors (maybe). What’s not at all clear is how this website will serve actual people who live with disabilities.
Here are some more reassuring words for investors (again, the italics are my emphasis):
Disaboom is in the process of forming key strategic partnerships with a variety of groups including advertisers seeking a highly targeted audience, content and database providers, rehabilitation facilities, and illness and disability support organizations.
Through the establishment of carefully selected marketing and cross-promotional relationships . . .
What this says to me is that, if you sign on, they will spam you plenty. They will sell your information to every possible medical supply company, every insurance scam, every outfit that lives to hound “this” unsuspecting “market”. No thanks, fellows. Big medical supply and its friends already have us in the crosshairs, and offering us up on a platter is repulsive.
Inviting us to supply the content so that they can do just that is even worse.
It’s slick, it’s corporate, and I, quite frankly, don’t like the smell. Here’s another point, too: Above all, having a disability is an ultimately individual situation. No two people live with the same, or the same degree, of disability. Merely to assume that all of us who live with a disability fall into the same group (“this untapped market”) is offensive all by itself.
Assuming that ‘people with disabilities’ is a separate demographic from the general population is pretty dull-witted. News flash, guys — most people will live with some type of disability at some point in their lives.
I am in no way against making a profit, but this kind of profit-seeking in the guise of pretending to enable people who are actually being sold and described as an untapped “market” is loathsome. That this “market” includes many vulnerable people who are already facing serious challenges makes me more than a little ill.
On the financial side, this full-bore corporate approach looks like another entrepreneurial disaster-in-waiting.
One blogger, who lives with a disability, claims that she gets paid for writing reviews, and implies you can, too. I didn’t sign on, so I don’t know what the terms are, but if this is true, it explains the poor quality and lightweight nature of the reviews that are already posted. There appears to be an incentive for posting frequently, but with little detailed information.
I suspect the temporary success of Facebook and other social networking sites proved irresistible to the folks behind this misguided scheme, but I doubt that the demographics exist to support a site like Disaboom. This just looks too much like another venture capital opportunity — very reminiscent of the stuff that crashed so frequently in the late 90s.
Disaboom is traded on the OTC Bulletin Board, a warning sign if ever there were one. Its shares are what’s commonly called “penny stocks” — highly volatile and easily manipulated. From Wikipedia:
Stocks traded in OTC markets such as the OTCBB or Pink Sheets are usually thinly traded microcap or penny stocks and are avoided by many investors due to a well-founded fear that share prices are easily manipulated. The SEC issues stern warnings to investors to beware of common fraud and manipulation schemes.
Just because some slicksters call it “Dis[something]” doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Or for me. Or for any of those of us who live with disabilities. Take a look, poke around, be skeptical. And, whatever you do, don’t send them any money. Don’t trust their articles unless they give you good reason to. And don’t give them your personal information unless you don’t mind being included in marketing databases from which you’ll never be able to be removed.
Bloggers (and other writers), if you write for these people, keep your wits about you — if you’re writing for compensation, make sure you get paid fast. If you value your voice, make sure it’s heard, and not muffled by ‘editing’, or an insistence that you write a pre-determined party line.
Reviewers, if you’re writing for pay, it’s a lot more honest if that’s obvious upfront. It’s something people might want to know when deciding how to interpret the post. Full disclosure: it’s better for everyone.
Prove me wrong, and I’ll take it all back. In the meantime, I’ll be here holding my nose.
Related: Disaboom, Take Two
7 replies on “Disaboom – A Slick, Not-So-Pretty Website Ploy”
I fully agree with your article – this disaboom website is most likely a tax loss/write off for a group of investors who will abandon the site after it fails to show a profit taking members money down with it.
As for their statement of being the first disability community online – Crap! Sites like lovebyrd and Disabled World were online years ago and are still running today.
My biggest question is, if people get value from the site, make friends, get accurate information, etc., does it really matter if someone is making money by selling advertising? The language is a little yucky, but so is all marketing language, IMHO. If everyone has to be broke to provide good things to the community, then all those broke people will eventually get sick of being broke. I am not the most fond of corporations and do try to be careful how much I believe that companies tell me, but it seems to me that if someone can turn a profit while providing a valuable service that people enjoy, great! After all, nobody is forcing anyone to click ads.
I currently use disaboom.com and am enjoying it so far. I gave them my real email address and haven’t received any spam so far. Of course, I read their terms and conditions first–they say they won’t sell people’s information. Since they’re a publically held company that statement is actually very reliable, since they could get in a hell of a lot of trouble if they break those terms.
I don’t really understand your gripe about them making money. The internet revenue model that seems to work best is give something quality away for free and make money from advertising (google, yahoo, etc). People with disabilities should probably be proud that our free market is taking notice of them and starting to serve them more. I mean, we do live in a capitolist society…
anyway, that’s my two cents — you’re dead wrong about the spam part and I think your reasoning about the money part is suspect.
Caneman, belated thanks for your comment. Time will tell, I guess, if Disaboom’s got staying power.
Lisa and MJ, thank you for your very thoughtful and well-written disagreements. I am happy to hear that automatic opt-in spam does not seem to be part of Disaboom’s agenda. I am interested in your other points as well, and regret that I won’t be able to manage an immediate response.
Rather than respond too quickly (and perhaps too superficially), I’ll hold off until after the first of the year, when I can re-evaluate my feelings about the site with care.
I’ve been a member of disaboom for a few months and haven’t received a single piece of spam. All advertising is on the up and up, being completely visible as click-through advertising. No adware installs itself on my machine and nobody has asked me for money.
There’s nothing wrong with being a for-profit social networking site, IMO, as long as false claims aren’t made, and disaboom doesn’t say they’re not-for-profit.
Thank you all for your comments. I’ve finally posted a response, which can be read here.
Being a well known deaf and disability activist. I find the shadows casted by disaboom to be the same as those who scam others. I’d be very wary of their gimmicks and tricks and the mask they’re wearing.
There are many positive solutions for the disability issues, but they dont normally flaunt their feathers like a peacock like disaboom does.