Uh, no they’re not.

SETH GODIN somehow figures that the people virtual companies employ are the equivalent of the real estate investments of offline retail units. Uh, no they’re not. Good real estate might be akin to good link placement for your online shopfront. Good online real estate might involve a well optimized site that resides on Google Street. Furthermore, good real estate might be one element of a successful business. Good employees might be another element of a successful business. But online real estate has nothing to do with employees. Unless we’re willing to stretch and link anything to anything. Well, I suppose the people who chopped down the trees from which the wood of the entrance beams was made who were subcontracted to the developers construction company who did the work for shop owner are, I imagine, intrinsically linked to the property, the real estate and the ultimate success of the business.

I will agree that good real estate is a great investment – and that hiring good people is a great investment. And that paying for both is wise, and usually necessary. Beyond that, I’ll politely refrain from comment. Unfortunately, there are successful businesses out there, many of them in fact, who have invested in good real estate INSTEAD of good employees. This is true especially in virtual businesses, where the link, the traffic, the hype and the almighty click is much more valued than the individual employee. Too many employees working for offline or virtual businesses on high-end streets are underpaid, undervalued and undermotivated to create meaningful experiences for us – the customers. But the real esate is good and we pay for the convenience – or the perception of the large corner lot. To think that all successful companies today have a workforce that is invested in to the tune of competitive mall space is off the mark. I wish. They wish.

* Good real estate is invested in at the expense of people. Over-stuffed advertising budgets are invested in at the expense of people. What would happen if a businesses invested that real estate or advertising money into its customers and employees. Costco doesn’t advertise. They don’t have to. Costco isn’t in malls. They don’t have to be.

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