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Why the Manti Te'o Train Wreck is Good for Entrepreneurs

The Manti T'eo scandal could provide just the push the Web needs to get real.
Manti Te'o #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish warms up prior to playing against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game.

This is a sad and tough time for Notre Dame and their football star, Manti T’eo. But for entrepreneurs, there may be a silver lining.  We could be seeing the beginning of the end of the anonymous web. That would be great news for all of us.

This scandal, and the ensuing fall-out, could be just the bump that the web needs to get real. Facebook started the process almost a decade ago, but it’s been a long, slow journey.

The web already affords small businesses ease, speed, and low- cost access to global customers. What if that could be combined with accurate personal information?

Why we need the personal web

For a rough analogy of the scale of this kind of change, go back to when U.S. postal rates changed from distance-sensitive (and thereby cost-prohibitive for national marketing initiatives) to flat-rate, nationwide. That change launched the rapid growth and expansion of modest little firms like Sears and Montgomery Ward.

As critical medical and financial profiles join our marketing identities in the daily flow of data, we’re not going to be able to conduct business intelligently unless we know that the fundamental factual foundation of these transactions—identity--is authentic. We’re all going to have to be who we actually are. We can expect more vetting of businesses by firms like Stella Service ( and more authentication of individuals through tools like Gravatar ( ).

The web brings us cost-effect access to markets and precision targeting. There are significant new tools being developed to help identify, segment, and reach new customers. None of this works without authentic and validated identity information.

The days of the Walter Mitty-ish world of the web, where we can be whatever and whoever we want to be, are fast coming to an end. That’s terrific news. 

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Jan 17, 2013


Howard Tullman is the CEO of 1871 in Chicago where, at the moment, 260 digital startups are building their businesses every day. He is also the general managing partner of G2T3V, LLC and Chicago High Tech Investors – both early-stage venture funds; a member of Mayor Emanuel’s ChicagoNEXT Innovation Council; and Governor Quinn’s Illinois Innovation Council. He is an adviser to many technology businesses and an adjunct professor at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management. @tullman

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