Naturally Predatory Business Practices

Naturally Predatory Business Practices

Spider SpiderI was watering the basil plant on my deck when I noticed that an industrious spider had woven a web around the blossoming flowers. I could see the spider laying in wait, its webby business plan optimally deployed to start generating revenue in the form of hapless flower-loving insects.

I couldn’t help but think that this is a common business model:

  1. Find some popular content or a popular destination
  2. Insert yourself as a middleman or as a distraction
  3. Reap a percentage of the traffic that is flowing to the content

Nothing wrong with this, as this model is underlying premise behind television advertising, the businesses that line the roadways to Niagara Falls and Anaheim, billboards, bumper stickers, news agregators, for-profit trade shows, retail channels, Google AdSense, toll roads, taxes, financial services, and many forms of brokering. It’s profitable, and you don’t actually have to spend time creating anything other than the web. For people who don’t create content, managing content is a pretty good way to make a living, because content creators can often use the help; it’s a lot of work, and when the partnership is symbiotic, everyone wins: creators, managers, and customers.

In the case of this industrious spider, however, its business model is actually leveraging the creative energies of the flower to ensnare visitors that would otherwise assist its pollination effort. In other words, the spider’s interests are in conflict with the interests of the flower, and it grows fat at the expense of the community of flowers.

If this was a business instead of a spider and a flower, I would be absolutely disgusted. Ordinarily I would leave nature alone, but I’m going to go break up that web and encourage the spider build its snare somewhere else. Go ahead, call me a meddling human; I bet the FTC will be on my side :-)


  1. Kirk Sandall 18 years ago

    If you’ve ever been to the Pier 39 area of San Francisco you’ll know that this is the exact model homeless people use.  The same goes for Union Square and countless other attractions around the city.  While walking around many popular areas of San Francisco, and other cities, you’re stepping over sleeping homeless or avoiding the relentless spare change requests.

    I guess this is further proof for my claim that the homeless are insects.  Oh wait, spiders are araneae not insects.  Ah well.


  2. Kena 18 years ago

    On the other hand, this spider could be protecting your basil from evil insects. My own basil plant is invaded by white flies, which are the bane of my existence, right now. They’re impossible to eliminate, resistant to pesticides (if I wanted to use pesticides, which I don’t), and they breed very fast.

    I was delighted to see a spider setting up its home in my plant yesterday; maybe it will help curb the nasty infestation.

  3. Dave Seah 18 years ago

    Kirk: Interesting perspective. I don’t like being accosted by panhandlers either, not sure if I would assume that all homeless people are panhandlers though.

    Kena: Hm, that is a good point. Maybe I won’t evict the spider right away. It’s not like my eating the basil plant is particularly in the plant’s best interest to begin with :-)

  4. Lindsay 18 years ago

    Damn the spiders!  No morals at all!  Gosh!  Thank you for restoring balance to the universe, Dave, you’re a stand-up guy!