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May 23, 2010

Haagen Daz turns 50; and the Dumbest Business Model ever.

The other day I took my staff out to Hapa for a big meeting at the end of the day, at 5. By 6, we were done and Merete and I ran through sudden, spring-y, driving rain down to Haagen Daz, which was giving away free ice cream in celebration of its 50th Anniversary.

Being a Ben & Jerry’s man (Ben & Jerry’s is catty-corner across the street, like a 70s-era gas station in a price war or a standoff at the OK Corall), it was the first time I’d been in Haagen Daz since I was little and my mom and I used to go there back in the 80s (I could be making that memory up, but I’m pretty sure the store’s been there that long).

As we walked to the counter and were offered free ice cream, and with our meeting still ringing in my ears, I laughed, and said,

“This is what web sites do every day. Give our content away for free. If Haagen Daz did this every day, they’d be out of business in a week.”

[galleria]

Still, the free ice cream thing points out the positive side of free, too: it got us in the door. Merete hadn’t been there for four years. I hadn’t been there for 24.

So that’s why we’re going to keep offering all our content for free, and simply ask and incentivize our readers to pay a little, if they want to see us survive and improve the quality of our content and see a major force for quality, independent media take root and flower.

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