How to come out of stealth mode in style

Who is Beff Jezos

Sup nerds

Imagine if a founder started an anonymous account to hype up their company.

That doesn’t sound too crazy, right?

Well, now imagine if that anonymous account got 50,000+ followers and started a new philosophy that was based on similar ideas as the company.

Let’s say their company was about making ice cream and the philosophy was called Effective Free-Ice-Cream-ism and it was all about making ice cream free and accessible to the world.

Alright, now imagine this philosophy became so widely known that billionaires would talk about it, the government was curious about you, Big Ice Cream is trying to take you down, and Forbes journalists would use CIA-level technology to tell the world it’s you running the account.

But, you’re smarter than them. You knew a hit piece would eventually come. You knew journalists would fall into the trap of doxing you. So you capitalize on the hit piece to get millions of views, get 20,000+ new followers overnight, and make a big announcement about your company raising millions.

Does this sound too good to be true?

Well, that’s what happened this weekend.

2 years, a startup founder named Guillaume Verdon started an anonymous account named Beff Jezos. As Beff, Verdon coined a philosophy called Effective Accelerationism (e/acc) about accelerating technology as much as possible. The philosophy picked up steam in tech Twitter with supporters ranging from Grimes to Gary Tan. In fact, the movement picked up so much momentum, the government was worried about it. And when the government worries, of course the journalists get involved.

So when the hit piece finally came and he was doxed, Verdon took the opportunity to announce he raised $14 million for his startup, got 3 million views, and gained 20,000+ followers overnight. Whoa. The journalists trying to take Beff down made Guillaume into an overnight legend across Silicon Valley.

Ever since Beff got doxed, I was been wondering if he tipped off journalists. After listening to him on the Moment of Zen Podcast, I don’t think he did. He seems too genuinely stressed out to have planned this. But let’s say for a moment you were a founder working on a secretive startup and you wanted to get as much attention on your announcement as possible.

Is the Beff Jezos playbook a repeatable marketing hack?

There’s 3 questions I’m thinking about.

  1. Can you start an anonymous account to hype up your company? Yes. Easy. Will it be easy to grow this account? No. Many hours on Twitter or whichever app you use. Guillaume’s method of choice was Twitter, specifically writing a ridiculous amount of bangers, replying to popular accounts with controversial takes, and going on Twitter Spaces almost every night.

  2. Can you start a philosophy around similar ideas of your company? Yes. Starting an AI girlfriend app? Start the Botsexual Rights Movement. Launching a self-driving car? Start the Anti-Driving Movement. I could do this all day. A movement is just good marketing.

  3. Are you guaranteed a hit piece and/or dox? Not necessarily. To get in mainstream media, your philosophy has to piss off the wrong or “right” people. In the case of Beff, he pissed off the decelerationists, doomers, and journos who want to slow down technological progress. That being said, if you have friends in high places or with big audiences, you can just ask them to post the hit piece. Wait, who would post a hit piece about themselves? Uh, just ask Ryan Holiday and Tucker Max or the makers of GTA who planted terrible reviews around the internet. All press is good press, right?

So is Beff Jezos a repeatable marketing hack?

My brain says “no, it’s too hard”, but my gut says “yes, it’s possible”.

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As always, create some cool shit this week.

Jason Levin