Black Swan, Internet and Placement Agencies

Nassim Taleb has written book called “The Black Swan” where he talks about Black Swan Theory.

The black swan theory or theory of black swan events is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight.


The Black Swan event is something nobody could foresee happening, but once it happens and upsets their world, everyone tries to find explanation for that and claim that it was predictable (infact some will claim that they knew it was going to happen)


Nassim Taleb gives example of turkey. A farmer feeds turkey for 1000 days.  Based on existing data turkey comes to conclusion that farmer is a nice guy who has welfare of turkey in mind,  and thing will be better in future, but a day before Thanksgiving it gets killed. Based on existing data turkey could not predict this death.

“Consider a turkey that is fed every day. Every single feeding will firm up the bird’s belief that it is the general rule of life to be fed every day by friendly members of the human race ‘looking out for its best interests,’ as a politician would say.

“On the afternoon of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, something unexpected will happen to the turkey. It will incur a revision of belief.”

-Nassim Taleb

Infact just before black swan event optimism is at its peak and people feel that nothing can go wrong and future will get better.

“Consider that [the turkey’s] feeling of safety reached its maximum when the risk was at the highest!”

-Nassim Taleb


In 80’s and 90’s the placement agencies in India had a great time, they could command fee equal to 25%-33% of annual salary of individual hired. In early nineties then Finance Minister of India Manmohan Singh opened Indian economy, with this hopes of placement agencies went up, from now on it was rise and rise for placement agencies or so they thought.

'These days I spend most of the time trying to find a job myself.'

But then came internet (Black Swan) resulting in something no placement agency had dreamed about- online job portals, apps like Facebook and LinkedIn etc. This new model took away major chuck of business from placement agencies.

Could placement agencies back in 90’s predict power of Facebook, Linkedin or Whatsapp? Not at all! But you will still find “experts” who will claim that they saw this coming.


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