19 posts • joined 26 Jan 2010
Just desserts? Too late for that.
The Silicon Valley Way was effective only at the very beginning. It did create a few very strong companies that have since defined our tech and international business landscapes.
But the perpetuation of it has created one of the biggest myths in modern economic history. It has not improved innovation and job-creation nearly as much as it could have. And, it's destroyed so many great ideas, individuals, organizations and even whole economies. Boom-bust cycles are not particularly healthy ways to grow economies.
The tone here suggests the VCs will get their just desserts. If one hasn't noticed, they are rather flush with cash. Their unholy marriage with Wall Street has created truly sickening wealth for not the 1%, but the .01% (an admittedly frustrated estimate). When a company goes public like FB or Twitter, the money is made the instant shares are released, but *only* by the chums who set the deal up: the VCs, the investment banks and a few more-than-well-informed brokers. The Big-Bang moment immediately after the bell is rung is a ride into financial hell for the rest of us.
Institutionalized pillage. These self-made billionaires are today's real mafia.
We can't afford to go through another major cycle. I've been in the tech business since 1980, and in the Bay Area since 1986. I've experienced three of them, and they are truly devastating...but not to the VC community. Never to the VC community. They make their real money up-front.
All you armchair tech experts can throw stones at Andreessen. After all, he was one of the most famous wunderkind poster boys; essentially hand-picked by the VCs to represent Netscape's rise: good on camera, fairly articulate, even-keeled. But, he's one of the very few who has not only learned what kind of reality The Way has spawned, but put serious effort into restructuring his own approach. Andreessen Horowitz is one of a handful of major funding sources that looks hard at all the fundamentals. They actually spend time understanding the projects and the people in them. They are not perfect, but they *are* different.
New business failure rates have not changed over the past - at least - 15 years. How is that possible with all the resources and attention available to start-ups today? If 90%-plus of all new ventures shutter within five years (that number includes ventures in garages, dorms, basements and apartments *never* registered), it can't possibly be natural selection, as is espoused by the VC community. With that kind of inherent ineptness, we, as a species, would have perished a long time ago (though, we seem to be hell-bent on doing it at some point in the near future...).
We need to stop feeding the animal. Stop letting the popular media make stars out of the one-hit wonders. Most importantly, we need to focus on getting *prepared* to actually go into business with these great ideas we all have.
Great ideas are not hard to come by, but are worthless without a business behind them. The great idea *is not* the business. *We* are not the business. Money will *not* solve all the problems. We have to actually create the structure - the business - that will provide the sustainable mechanism that will help create the value of the idea and allow it to get to the people who need it the most.
Probably five people will read this, but after doing this for 30-plus years, the simple message of "plan first" still needs to be heard everywhere. It's not happening in schools, it's not happening in the industry, the VCs don't seem to want it (they think it'll screw up their current cash-generating system...but they're wrong) and the complicit popular media is ignorant.
Success can be defined in any way you wish; a very individual thing. It is ridiculous to think if you don't make a billion dollars you've failed. The foundation of any economy is the millions of SMEs that provide steady jobs and income, and contribute every day to local and national economies. If someone finds happiness in a ten-person company and that's all they need, then it's a success. Tired of tech and want to open a coffee shop? Do it. If it makes you and your customers happy, do it.
Going into business is not easy. It can take over your life. But if it's done right, it can be incredibly rewarding and endlessly interesting (what more can you ask of modern life?). Plan, structure and build your business a day at a time. Don't even think about starting something without a real business model that can sustain your efforts with an absolute minimum of outside assistance. That's the only way to stop these increasingly damaging cycles.
Yes, it will indeed create a revolution in product creation. And by default, in physical distribution and relative power. Just takes a few iterations, like anything else. Patience.
Annoying - and not the OS
Been using Win 8 from the beginning. After an afternoon, got used to the UI within hours and haven't looked back, since. Solid, fast, useful. And, the direction they are going is welcome. Got the upgrade shortly after it was available.
1. Painless install
2. Flawless hardware support (on an older system, too)
3. Upgrades make sense
We have three very solid OSs from which to choose. All of them are amazing on so many levels. I've been using since 1980, so nothing looks bad to me. Apple and Linux have their issues, just like Win. Feels like I'm in jail with Apple, and - admit it - even this latest Ubuntu can't make the file incompatibility problem go away. I just need to get my work done, and Win does it.
Stop whining! Enjoy the bounty.
...though I won't be in line to pay to see it. Maybe one day in a year or so when it's free somewhere - and I'm good and stoned - I'll spend a brain-dead evening with JM. It'll be fitting then.
What an ass.
Another massively misdirected effort
This. Will. Not. Do. It!
Many attempts, exactly like this. All dismal failures. Women want nearly the same things in their products men want. Colors and some ornamentation are attractive - to just a few female buyers. But what they want the most is ease of use, no nasty cords, no extra "features" for the sake of extra features. Just check the stats on Apple notebooks and see how the M-F buyer is split.
Just focus on how they USE their technology. What their concerns are day to day. Make 'em look attractive, too. But not to teen girls. Elegant, sophisticated, accomplished adults.
Re: Stay away until $10
I was solidly with you until your 3rd paragraph.
The product is not eyeballs. Eyeballs - or traffice/pageviews/click-throughs, etc ,- is an indicator of activity and stickiness. The product is the platform; the environment in which FB members do their thing. To monetize that is the business model. To make money from the biz model is the intent.
With you, again, on the house of cards, but not because it's an internet company. There are thousands of sites that have been around for a very long time. Because it's a relatively new medium - effectively less than 25 years - there are going to a lot of casualties. From 1896 to 1930, it is estimated there were about 1800 car *companies* in the U.S. alone (not car models!).
Suckthebird is permanently immature and not fit for the job. He stumbled into this only because he wanted to get laid. He took ideas from other people as - without him doing much at all - the take-up rate skyrocketed. No magic, no flashes of brilliance, nothing outstanding. He did, indeed, take advantage of his luck, though. But, now, on to a real business. Something he has only just gotten a taste of, but has no real ability for.
$10 is where I'm at, too. Even then, they better have a better way to stay afloat, and better ways to treat his membership, or his luck baby will disappear.
This one is way too easy
I got involved in the 3D printer biz a while ago. This is something that is talked about very little. It should, though. As some are waxing lyrically about the law and plastic vs. steel, the printer technology is getting better more quickly than ever. The ability to use a large variety of materials is certain. Larger pieces are coming, too. Faster speeds and lower costs are a given. I don't doubt machines like routers will also become more personal.
We will all be able to acquire CAD drawings from all over the world for just about anything, including previously ridiculously expensive car parts (there is some good news in all this, after all). There will be an underground economy that will be nearly impossible to stop, and trade in stolen drawings will be only for the very greedy and fearless.
This is not hard to pull off: Bad people (some good ones, too) can hop on a plane with just their clothes and a flash drive - or just buy one when they get there. They just need access to a computer and printer in a clandestine location and they're off and running. Download, print, assemble, shoot. No markings, no numbers, nothing to identify them. For the small job, the deed is done, leave the weapons. For big ones - like under-the-radar wars - this process can be replicated in the hundreds at one time. Even if this took weeks, it would be a better situation than most in need of weapons like this, have now.
This is pretty serious. Asking a lot here, but I hope someone in leadership has their wits about them.
And that, indeed, is worth more than twice what Larry Ellison just paid for Lenai.
Can you imagine what $1B in financial support could have done for, say, 1000 budding entrepreneurs? Might have been a photo-sharing app, or two, in that bunch.
Re: Ooops. Correction.
That, without reservation, is a serious overstatement.
Andreessen - as he has said himself - was lucky. Timing is everything. He was plucked out because he was reasonably articulate, decent looking and had some talent. He wasn't a messiah, Anon.
Besides, if not Andreessen, then someone else who was nearby. The place was - and still is - teeming with decent talent.
That said, I truly wish guys like Suckthebird were shuttered by the PR team in favor of someone who could actually put a sentence or two together on a regular basis.
No other choice
Right now, as was said by LesboInMansBody (great name, by the way), Groupon has no choice but to change their biz model. They are heading for the wall very quickly. And, from what has been let out in the press so far, it appears it's not likely what they are offering is sustainable, either. Everyone would be better off if the company was just shot in the head now, rather than make us watch a prolonged death.
This whole IPO thing was embarrassing. The only saving grace for them was Zuckerberg's sage decision to spend a mighty billion on Instagram. Took the media heat off them for a bit.
Things like this are good for some laughs maybe, but too many people will be badly affected. This swing-for-the fences approach to growing the tech business has to stop.
That's the point
The price tag is WAY, WAY off.
Come on! This P.O.S. 18-month-old-no-revenue-no-tech company is worth more than the NY Times (among, literally, thousands of other substantive, revenue-generating companies!)?
Put that $1B in a fund and help a few thousand very smart, very motivated entrepreneurs, run them side-by-side with Instagram and let's see who provides value. Geez, you might even get a photo sharing company who can give you a filter or two.
The real - and only - test is will this purchase give them back their billion within (even) the next decade? Never.
Sure, plants communicate to each other all the time. Makes total sense. We seem to want a very clean divider between plants and animals, most likely because we don't want to see ourselves as unimportant. Bees dance for each other, other small critters secrete... the list is endless. Why in the world would that be any different for plants?
There was a recent study in GB that determined when one plant was injured it warned the neighboring plant to watch the eff out. Not with long words (or short ones), but with a gas we humans couldn't detect without special equipment.
Going a bit out on a limb, here, I would posit the wind carries "messages" all the time to far reaches of earth, and they land on the right "ears" with (probably) surprising regularity. Plants already use the wind for basic survival needs. You know, pollination. That in itself is still not entirely understood, and it's because of the same level of ignorance we have about so many living things out there. We've a lot to learn.
Humans - understandably - see things through a particularly human filter and are missing most of what goes on in the universe. Thank goodness, too. We'd be immediately overwhelmed - and destroyed - by the cacophony and data avalanche. Everything living has its own filters for the same reason. I would also think one day our definition of what is living will expand, too.
And so it goes
The Kindle was not created to be an open device. It was created as a front door to the world of Amazon. Getting Gmail from the Web should be good enough for the millions who will own one. And, no - get over it - this is NOT an iPad competitor. In a year's time, I would love to see the stats on who owns both, and the profiles of who owns only one. I will bet my last dollar (coming soon, thanks to our last president and his merry band of emotionally disturbed ostriches) the impact on anything Apple will be negligible, and Kindle sales will be seriously good.
As well written as this article was - and it was - the primary point is most weak, and was a waste of good time. I suppose, just like this comment .
Indeed, what of the harsh employee treatment? That story now occupies a place in the 55-gallon drum of great-but-untimely stories, and will never see the light of day again; to be replaced, as it were, with whining such as this.
...the impressive integration of applications and access of the kind Google has revolutionized - and there's no denying that! - are what you are missing, sir. Give it a try for a few months, then write us back.
For all the erudite contributors to this discussion - and at least it's rather comforting to see some people are actually thinking hard - please read the article again and tell us all what this has to do with why. Granted, attempting to know how is fun. But, that pesky why question will never be answered. At least in the state of energy we are in at the moment. The author should be more careful in choosing his words, or he might sound a bit uninformed.
No doubt about it
The valuations for some recent poster children - like Groupon and Airbnb - are plain stupid. Even Google's valuation is way out of whack. With a start-up of my own, working in South Park in SF, we are seeing two different approaches.
The first is like the bad-old days. Too much spending, frenetic behavior and lots of young, inexperienced talent being guided by old inexperienced money. Bubbletime is around the corner for a few companies. The second is a much more cautious, measured approach. Lots of bootstrapping, scrimping and clever approaches. There are hundreds of these that are in it for the long haul. Including us. No VCs, no acquisitions. Just build the company one brick at a time.
The unholy alliance between Silicon Valley and Wall Street continues, and in the same insidious insider pocket-lining way. If all those big shooters didn't drive up the prices with their network of greedy bastards, we wouldn't be looking at this problem in the same way.
And the problem is what?
So a company develops a useful product people are actually getting value from. The other companies in that space aren't doing as good a job. So, people don't use them. It's called a free market, and it works.
Don't like 'em, don't use 'em. Have other ideas?, bring them to market and stop complaining. Google - like Microsoft, Cisco and so many others - was a darling when it was an up-and-comer. Success breeds contempt; nothing new there.
Stop complaining and get to work. You, too, Anonymous Coward. Go waste time someplace else.
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