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Henry Woeltjen

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Is TED a scam?

Who attends these meetings or whatever it is you guys call them? How does this organization qualify as a non-profit?

Just wanted to clarify...maybe I am wrong. Some input would be great.

1. How can you charge people 75 dollars (knowing certain people cannot afford that) and then claim its a non-profit trying to help the planet?

2. If I am wrong...and TED does do something amazing...what is it?

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    Dec 20 2012: Dear Henry,
    1. I've never attended a TED event. Heck I didn't even know they charged 75 bucks. But either way, you can watch almost all TED talks on TED website/YouTube in HD. TED needs revenues to even expenses

    2. It transfers an 'idea' from one mind to other without usual BS. That seems fair enough to me

    [An Idea: Since you seem unemployed, you can start a 'Ted'-like organism(without attendance fee). You can make a free website (Blogger) and start :)]
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    Dec 20 2012: Implying that TED is a "scam" seems a bit harsh to me.

    Non-profit organizations are allowed to collect revenue, so long as all proceeds are used to further the cause of the organization. However, they are prohibited from distributing profits to owners or shareholders in the same capacity that a for-profit corporation does. Non-profit organizations that do not have tax exempt status are not required to operate solely for charitable purposes and can conduct business more freely as long as all profits are used to further the organization's objective.

    I don't think it's necessarily accurate (or fair) to assume that an organization which collects money or isn't strictly philanthropic doesn't have a valid, positive purpose.

    Collecting $7,500 from conference attendees might seem unjustifiable, but if you consider the costs involved in organizing an event, recruiting speakers, maintaining a high volume website without ads, and making thousands of TED talks available to stream/download online for free, that figure begins to seem more reasonable.

    Although I'm sure there are a number of very productive, ingenious people who would like to attend TED conferences but cannot afford to, the $7,500 fee facilitates a demographic of individuals who have applied their ingenuity to earning money. That's not to say that individuals with lucrative ideas are better or more legitimate than individuals whose ideas are not profitable, but it does make for a particular conference dynamic that is conducive to matching good ideas with the resources to perpetuate them.
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      Dec 20 2012: Different live or simulcast TED events cost different amounts to participate, but listening to the talks and discussing them online are free. Many TEDx events are offered at modest price or sponsored by organizations for their employees or membership.
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      Dec 20 2012: It facilitates a demographic? So you don't want poor people at these things...yeah I can see how that's not pig headed at all.
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        Dec 20 2012: I'm stating it as a fact, not expressing the opinion that *I* don't want poor people there.

        I would imagine that the $7,500 is less about specifically excluding poor people and more about attracting a demographic that has the financial resources to support TED or invest in the ideas being presented at the conference. As Fritzie pointed out, there are many other TED events/forums that cost a lot less (or are completely free) and things like that (including this discussion) are subsidized by the more expensive events and private donations.

        The typical attendee of the TED conference not only has $7,500 of disposable funds, but chooses to spend those funds on attending the conference. That reflects the sort of values held by such a person. By catering to THAT specific demographic for certain events, TED statistically increases its chances of earning the patronage of like-minded, financially successful individuals. I don't think they should be vilified for wanting to create an environment conducive to that once or twice per year.
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    Dec 20 2012: A Non Profit means that they do not take profit. They spend it on organizing all the things they do, including the 10 plus thing on the top of the screen.
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    Dec 20 2012: For starters I think we have seen bigger communities of intellectuals...so I wont even comment on that. My point is very simple...and you can all rant all you want about how great these forums are.

    Fact is...if TED has this huge influence...shouldn't TED be doing something with it?

    Or is that just...way out in left field?
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      Dec 20 2012: No Henry, your idea is not way out in left field. I have gotten the impression from the beginning of my participation on TED, that the goal was to build a "community". It even says "TED community" on the top bar, where we can find all the members:>)

      So, the question is not what TED can do for you, but what can YOU do for the community?
  • Dec 20 2012: TED is a global community of intellectuals in such a scale that has never been had in history.
  • Dec 20 2012: 75 dollars for what?
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    Dec 20 2012: and they rip off who exactly?

    1. certainly not me. i get everything for free.
    2. attendees are told beforehand what program they can expect, what is the price. they get exactly that for exactly the agreed price.
    3. the state, through tax evasion? honestly, i could not care less if this is the case. they collect too much taxes anyway.
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      Dec 20 2012: Try 3c hike each year for the next 4 years? Petrol tax but since we deregulated back in the 90's we now have on average 3 cars per family, mostly Japanese imports. We now have too many cars on the roads and they require continuous upkeep. It's a tax that hurts but how else are we to get the roads kept up to scratch.

      I don't like paying taxes like anyone else either.
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        Dec 20 2012: how do we keep roads in shape ... privatize them. the private owner of a road must spend enough to ensure future income, but has to charge competitively few.

        btw. how do we know that interstate highways are the way to go? why not railways? why not airways? the free market is so resourceful.
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    Dec 20 2012: Good questions, Henry. I would think that the attendance fees help pay for this forum where we can have these wonderful conversations about interesting topics.

    I wonder if TED has a "scholarship" mechanism where people who can't afford the 75 bucks can have it waived? You might inquire.
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    Dec 20 2012: Does anybody have any links to the financial reports from the Sapling Foundation?
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    Dec 20 2012: Think TED's a scam.

    Hangs out in TED because of the discussions.

    Loves conversations and ideas and innovations.

    TED is a pigheaded prop.

    Funny thread, nice to see some troll humor here every now and then.
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      Dec 20 2012: I like the discussions...no doubt...that really has nothing to do with what TED is doing. However, your use of rhetoric isn't surprising...that's what this kind of forum breeds.

      You said TED is a pigheaded prop....when I was referencing a specific statement. You then take it...generalize it...and use it as you did. I mean that's fine...but let's call it for what it is.

      Don't act like im this "negative Nancy" until you can prove it. Am I wrong? Does TED not use people as a marketing platform for other companies?

      Since you limit the demographic....this isn't an "Ideas Bank" ...its a group of people that like to hang out and talk about stuff.

      That's fine..again...but let's stop pretending here. Have your meetings...and your little brainstorming sessions...but don't act like your making any sort of change for anybody. Plenty of people put in good work for humanity...im not so sure any of them are on this thread.
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        Dec 20 2012: According to the FAQ on this website about speakers who present their ideas in talks at the conferences, the demographic of talk-givers is not limited by their ability to pay to attend. Their airfare, accomodations, and pass to the four day event are covered by TED. They receive no stipend to speak, however.
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        Dec 20 2012: Henry,
        For me, the discussion has EVERYTHING to do with what TED is about. I cannot afford to go to the conferences, and I can watch them right from my home because TED provides that service. Like any other non-profit, there are expenses generated, both in providing the talks in person, as well as electronically. I think just the fact that I can watch these videos and connect with people around the world on a daily basis, for no cost to me is pretty amazing.
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    Dec 20 2012: So this is what we have so far.

    1) TED doesn't have to do anything amazing.
    2) If you cannot afford a ticket...maybe you don't belong at the conferences.

    :) you all can have your expensive meetings...some of us understand what's really going on here.
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      Dec 20 2012: Good things are not always amazing.There is no prerequisite that demands TED do everything in an amazing way.You seem to believe that everything should be affordable for everyone. That is not so. The TED cash cow is based on the spectacularly high price of a seat in the venue where the remarkable talks are being delivered live. Then the high-quality videos-with translation- are made available to the 6.999999999 billion of us who cannot attend live. I think it's amazing that Technology (the "T" in TED) allows me to "attend" at no charge. You have contributed 137 heart-felt, passionate comments so you should see the value of TED, even with the flaws you perceive. Stick around sir, share some positive, constructive energy with us. Be well!
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        Dec 20 2012: Edward...I have no problem with what TED is doing...wave the right flag though..thats all im saying...dont walk around with "flag A" when you obviously fly under "flag B"...understand what im saying?
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          Dec 20 2012: No, Henry, I need more information to understand your issue with TED, if you think it is constructive to pursue the subject. Thanks!.
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    Dec 20 2012: 1) "Who attends these meetings. . . ?". Whoever considers a ticket to be worth the price and buys one. It's called the free exchange of goods and services. It is one of the vital signs of freedom.
    2) "How does the organization qualify. . . ?". No profits are taken from collected revenue. No payouts or dividends are paid. All funds are incorporated into the continuing operation.
    3) "How can you charge. . . ?". Fees are the value received by TED for the product, or service they provide. TED policymakers set the price of a ticket as appropriate to fund the operation of the enterprise. This is normal and typical business practice.
    4) ". . . and then claim it's a non-profit. . . ?". See number 2 above.
    5) "If I am wrong. . . ?". Your implication that TED does not do "something amazing" is misplaced. Look closely at Ms. d'Etienne's comment (below).
    TED is worthwhile, God bless those folks who can, and do, devote some of their money to fund it. Give it another look Mr. Woeltjen, you'll like it!
  • Dec 20 2012: Are Universities scams? TED is a really cheap way to communicate and spread ideas. The most enjoyable reference to TED that I have seen was a scene that was not in the final cut for Prometheus. That's not a scam - It's part of educated culture.
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      Dec 20 2012: I was thinking the same. What a wonderful thing to make high quality talks across fields available at no charge to anyone with a computer!

      I think of TED as part of the online learning revolution for the intrinsically motivated.
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      Dec 20 2012: Yes George many Universities are scams.
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    Dec 20 2012: I have noticed that much of what TED seems to actually do (atleast publicly) consists of the following:

    -I've got an idea
    -Here it is *tells audience*
    -Goodbye *everyone goes home*

    There does appear to be somewhat of a limit to observable results/improvement to any given situation that is talked about in a TEDtalk, so it would be nice to go from
    'ideas worth sharing'
    to
    'Ideas put into practice'
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    Dec 20 2012: You may find part of your answer in this talk about the potency of exchanges of ideas:
    http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_johnson_where_good_ideas_come_from.html
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    Dec 20 2012: You might be the first to organize the first open air TedX in your local Tedburban area with local businesses contributing to donating their time and investment to the said event?

    Why we are trying to cram in as much helpful input as possible? Well we hopefully think it's helpful.

    Posterity.
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    Dec 20 2012: Communicate ideas and then what? What's the value of spending all this money on communication? Are we using this communication to do anything more than push brands?

    Does TED have any sort of government foundation that submits ideas...or are we just focused on making more money here? I mean...if a foundation does exist...what kind of ideas has it come up with?

    How much more progress could we make on cancer research if we didn't use any more money to communicate these ideas? If TED disappeared today...would millions of children go hungry?

    I guess I don't know enough about TED...so you could see this as an attack...or an inquiry. It would be nice to get funding to go across the country and evaluate these so called...non-profts. That wont ever happen...I could imagine trying to get access to some of these federally funded programs...I'm sure people are living quite nicely on dollar amounts that don't eqactly relate to work performed.

    I think instead of being fake...TED should consider opening to a more broad base of thinkers...people that aren't really able to pay 75 bucks because were too busy trying to make money in a horrible economy. If TED is going to fund these people...getting up on stage with nice outfits...why don't you start representing some people that don't have enough money to look as nice as some of you.

    I think its a huge mistake...trying to walk around pretending to be an institution of "ideas" when it really turns out to be a marketing platform for multiple companies across the globe. IBM logos and TEDCred...badges given for quantity...not quality. Pretty transparent.

    No?
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      Dec 20 2012: Yes the dreaded badge, i find it embarrassing as i haven't progressed along a measily ten since last year and to top it off, it has no currency value.

      I've been quite trollee lately with the massacre and the supposed world outrage towards it. I'm old fashioned and feel that victim privacy should of been observed.

      Another member was politely turned down a ticket by his local organizer as he didn't belong to an organization or foundation or a business though his forum input was exceptional. Ted only granted the rights for an organizer to use their brand but i think that is as far as it goes.

      Come on Henry, business is business even for a non profit like TED has to pay the bills, i don't think the acc firm they use donate their time unless they have an inhouse department.

      I would like to see academics and researchers at the end of their talks throw up a page on the screen showing links to whatever research they used, some of us are not great searchers....well, i'm not great at it.
  • Dec 20 2012: Never been to a meeting, but facility costs exist, even in non-profits.

    Facilitates communication between those with questions and those that are looking for a way to voice an opinion, share some knowledge, or offer an opinion.

    Offers videos and presentations as a means to communicate ideas, provide a venue for artists, and perhaps inspire new thoughts as a result of associations made between topics or discussions.

    This forum has a decidedly positive spin on issues and topics.