The Value of Letting Go- Social Media & IP Rights

A few months ago when I created my twitter account (@MikeSchiro), I was geeking out over the amount of company information available to the public. I started shooting off tweets with articles or links to company pages when I stumbled across a confusing interaction.

I tweeted a visual that was posted on a company’s twitter account only to notice that it was soon taken down. I was perplexed because it gained popularity in less than an hour, and over 100 people already viewed it. Why would this company take this down if it was just starting to gain momentum?

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I waited for the company to re-post the visual, so I could retweet it again. I had no luck. The visual never emerged again, and this interaction leads me to the questions that I want to explore: Is there a greater value in letting go of intellectual property or holding onto it?

To start answering these questions, I began looking into organizations that have publicly released large portions of their IP to promote growth in their target market. Telsa Motors was the first company to come to mind with their release of their patents (“All Our Patent Are Belong to You“). They argued that the release of their rights to the patents would strengthen their position in the market rather than diminish it. It was a risky strategic move, but stocks jumped shortly afterwards. Tesla created value by letting go.

While this example of letting go is focused on patents, similar strategic challenges will be faced by senior leaders who have strong competitors. The internet of things and Web 2.0 technologies have increased the ability to share information across any population, and, as a result, there will be a need to more closely define what information is retained from their competitors. Perhaps this was the challenge faced by the company who posted the visual only to quickly remove it.

2 Thoughts.

    • Great find! I love the line “Attempts to use enterprise social networks, that inevitably increase transparency, will only serve to illuminate organizational flaws.” It reminds me of the book “Employees First. Customers Second” by Vineet Nayar (

      Nayar compares transparency to windows of a house saying “the bigger your windows, the more glass you have in your house, the more visible the dirt will be- to you and to everyone who visits or passes by.” (p. 69) It’s almost as if ESN’s are the new windows.

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