you start taking market share for the sake of being #1 with little consideration for your competition
But lots of consideration for your annual shareholders' meeting, maybe?
So we have established that there can be and are general true villains, and those are people who are mean consistently (most of the time). unnecessarily (they don't have something to lose), and publicly (they don't care who sees it). (OK, so the first and last qualifier are mine but I did extrapolate them from kb's response.)
Basically, we're talking about bullies. Walmart's a bully. Amazon's a bully. And yeah, they make their own workers suffer for their success. Maybe I imagine they are so separated from their employees by their mountains of wealth that their meanness is not fully comprehensible to them, but kb says: deliberation. Petty deliberation.
Inexplicable, petty deliberation to pull down those around you and use their backs to climb (or whatever - just step on them - so long as it hurts them and doesn't hurt you!).
While I believe that inter-personally these individuals surely will suffer in the long run, I don't believe that the business world, the market, or the start-up industry will balance it out on them. I almost believe the market rewards such behavior.
And still, I have to repeat myself: if any of these mean start-up founders are smart, they will only be mean to those they can afford to be mean to. That may not include other start-up founders at networking events and conferences and so on, as they're trying to establish their company and their base. I think it can be just as mean to put on a false face and manipulate those around you to your benefit as it can be to - oh, I don't know - (it would help if the author of this article did ANY work defining or illustrating his own point so we didn't have to, but oh well, the conversation is interesting) - be blatantly obvious about the fact that you want everyone around you to suffer, or whatever.
I have a big problem with the author's premise that meanness = stupidity. Are dumb people therefore more likely to be mean? Are intelligent people more likely to be nice? That seems like a kind of rude assumption to be honest. It discounts entire, subtle methods of mean-ness: manipulation, social charm/charisma/influence, power plays, turning friends against a target, getting people in your debt and then using it (and their own nice-ness) against them.
I guess my problem with the whole article is that it is very black-and-white and simplified and willfully denies subtleties.
We all have to be mean sometimes and you know what? It's not always a bad thing to be mean, either. If we were nice all the time we would be other people's doormats and ATMs. Saying "mean people fail" denies the mean-ness inherent in yourself (so long as you think you are succeeding). It is possible to teach your children to be too nice. (I find it almost impossible to say no to a stranger asking me for a favor, so long as it's not money, and twice now I've handed over my phone to one - that's stupid! That's nice being stupid! I need to be meaner to these people, or get better at running!)
The man's an idealist and let's respect him for his commitment to good and idealism, but one day something horrible will happen to him and he'll think the universe was out to destroy him instead of taking his knocks for what they are. He'll feel victimized by the random awful things that will happen to him, as they do to most any person. Because he didn't deserve them. Because he was nice. But being nice, or not being mean, doesn't entitle you to much in this universe besides a few friends who respect and cherish and love you for your qualities (and I hope "nice"ness isn't the only one). That's not what the author seems to think though. He definitely is going off the idea that if you are nice, you will succeed in life and get everything you deserve. Your business won't fail. You won't fail. As long as he's nice, he won't fail.
Can't always succeed at everything though. Gotta accept that fact. Might not like it but gotta know it. (I may refuse to play Apples to Apples but I admit it's because I'm bad at it.)
Certainly, there's no scale up in the sky that tracks any kind of cosmic balance. You won't succeed at life, or in your start-up, by simply being nice at it.
Rambling, enjoying the thoughts. Sorry dudes. Looooooong.