Drink the Kool-Aid

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Tue Mar 11 00:44:25 UTC 2003

> Two quick notes on this. For a while I was keeping
> track of New Economy backlash examples, and the
> implications of "drinking the Kool-Aid" was one.
> During the boom years, the connotation was not
> necessarily negative (even it seemed like it would
> have to be, given the Jim Jones thing). For example,
> Jim Clark, explaining how investors flocked to
> Netscape's stock after the profitless company's public
> offering, once said: "People started drinking my
> Kool-Aid." I don't think he meant to suggest that
> people were blindly following him to certain disaster
> (even if that's kind of what happened).

The term is always negative and cynical, although it is true that it doesn't
necessarily connote future disaster. It implies that the people who "drink"
are mindlessly following the leader. Right or wrong, that's not a positive
image. Clark is not displaying a high degree of respect for the stockholders

Nor is it restricted to high-tech IPOs and I would disagree with the
specificity of the "believe in the stock" definition given in the referenced
article. Although it definitely is in the Silicon Valley slang lexicon (I've
heard and used it myself in this context), it has a wider usage. Several of
the early cites I've found are political references.

> Second: A reader at the time pointed out to me that
> Jim Jones actually served a Flav-R-Aid.

I'm not sure that's true. The accounts that seem most reliable specifically
state that the exact brand(s) used are not known with any certainty. Still,
conflation with the most popular brand was probably inevitable.

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