It’s time to stop tech industry FUD Sep27


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It’s time to stop tech industry FUD

Are you ready to take the #CleanFightChallenge?

In the year 1975 Gene Amdahl left IBM to found his own company, Amdahl Corp.  IBM waged a vicious marketing campaign against Amdahl that ultimately caused Amdahl to define FUD as it is used in its modern context: “FUD is the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that IBM sales people instill in the minds of potential customers who might be considering Amdahl products.”

The technology industry took the basic concept of argumentum in terrorem and refined it into its purest essence.  Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt is the carefully calculated and malicious practice of using misinformation to generate doubt, and ultimately fear, in order to sell a product.

FUD can be used at the level of an individual product, a feature, or wielded as a blunt cudgel against an entire company.  It is used by individuals as part of social media interactions with thought influencers.  It is used when talking to the media.  Most heinously, it is used by sales people as part of high pressure sales tactics when selling to the end user.

Often times, a technical document will need to exist that says “here are things we feel that existing solutions do wrong, and so our altered approach does them this way instead.” This is, however, worlds apart from integrating negative selling, innuendo and outright attacks directly into sales and marketing from the outset.

The line between fact and FUD can be blurry. If someone asks you for your honest opinion on a competitor, and for facts to back it up, responding honestly isn’t spreading FUD. It’s answering a direct question honestly.

What sets the honourable salesman apart is that they do not seek to instill fear, uncertainty or doubt or incorporate it as part of their regular sales pitch. This is what the clean fight challenge is all about.


I submit that the use of FUD is fundamentally indicative of fear on the part of the offender.  It is the tool of the schoolyard bully, all grown up, who does not believe in the quality and capability of their own product.  FUD is the – more often than not futile – attempt to downplay the flaws of one’s own offering by going out of the way to highlight the flaws of a competitor.

I also submit that honour in salesmanship is not only possible, it is preferable.  If you truly believe in your product, the chances are that I will too.  If your product is good, then it can stand on it’s own and win on merit.

I call on the technology industry to make a commitment – as individuals, and hopefully as entire companies – to avoid FUD.  To stick to positive selling and to work towards building an industry based not on slander and vitriol, but on quality, capability and innovation.

If you are here, you have been asked by others to make this commitment.  Sign the petition below to do so publicly, and let’s change the attitude of the technology industry, one technologist at a time.




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About Trevor Pott

Trevor Pott is a full-time nerd from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He splits his time between systems administration, technology writing, and consulting. As a consultant he helps Silicon Valley start-ups better understand systems administrators and how to sell to them.

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