Nobody remembers second place

by Bill on 10/09/2010

Do you know who Buzz Aldrin is?

Buzz Aldrin was the second man to set foot on the moon. Chances are you never new that did you? But what if I had asked if you knew Lance Armstrong is. My guess is that even if you don’t know what he did, his name does sound familiar. Lance Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the moon (aaahhhh knew it!), and Buzz Aldrin was the pilot who brought Lance Armstrong to the moon.

Why do hardly anyone remember Buzz Aldrin?

Zipf’s Law. The simplified version of zipf’s law is that the popularity of a particular event is inversely related to it’s rank. Thus the number 1 item is twice as popular as second place, the second is twice as popular as fourth and so on. Hence Armstrong being first on the moon got many times as much press time and mention than second place Buzz Aldrin.

The marketplace follows the same laws. The company ranked #1 will always have a very significantly larger following than #2, afterall the market loves a winner. So what do you do?
Well you can work your ass off at getting to #1, get an unfair advantage, find a niche or even underhype your startup.

Whatever it is you do remember that being number one is way more rewarding than being number two. If you think otherwise do let me know.

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