Great article from a Ben Horowitz, a venture capitalist. Here’s a small snippet:
The technology business is fundamentally the innovation business. Etymologically, the word technology means “a better way of doing things.” As a result, innovation is the core competency for technology companies. Technology companies are born because they create a better way of doing things. Eventually, someone else will come up with a better way. Therefore, if a technology company ceases to innovate, it will die.
These innovations are product cycles. Professional CEOs are effective at maximizing, but not finding, product cycles. Conversely, founding CEOs are excellent at finding, but not maximizing, product cycles. Our experience shows—and the data supports—that teaching a founding CEO how to maximize the product cycle is easier than teaching the professional CEO how to find the new product cycle.
The reason is that innovation is the most difficult core competency to build in any business. Innovation is almost insane by definition: most people view any truly innovative idea as stupid, because if it was a good idea, somebody would have already done it. So, the innovator is guaranteed to have more natural initial detractors than followers.
via Why We Prefer Founding CEOs // ben’s blog.
Everyone who builds or designs for the web should read Fred Wilson’s 10 Golden Principles of Successful Web Apps. Fred is a venture capitalist at Union Square Ventures in New York, and writes the not-very-creatively-named A VC blog.
Check the full article for all the details … but here are the main points:
- Instant utility
- Software is media
- Less is more
- Make it programmable
- Make it personal
- RESTful (this one is geeky … superficially: everything has a home, and anything/anyone can see it)
Some 3-word phrases are very hard to say. And I’m not talking about the agonizing decision about when to tell your boyfriend or girlfriend that it’s more than just a “like” situation.
“I don’t know” seem to be the hardest three words to say, as VC Josh Kopelman makes clear:
Why do people feel pressure to have an answer for every answer?
I don’t know …
The fact is, many insecure people are unwilling or unable to reveal ignorance. It takes a certain degree of self-assurance or confidence to be able to freely admit that you don’t know something. I think most of us have been in contact – perhaps very close contact – with men of a certain generation that could never say they were wrong, or never admit error, or ask for directions. I think this is a related issue.
The funny thing is that today, todays’ criteria for what makes someone smart is not so much what they can store in their brain, but what they can quickly find, integrate, and utilize. 21st century skills are much more about information access than information recall.
The fact is that with the world’s store of data increasingly ever more and more rapidly, you and I simply don’t have headspace for the vast majority of information that is being created. What’s more, we don’t want to have headspace for it. All we want to know is that the information is out there, somewhere, accessible if and when we need it.
Searching beats storing.
So there’s no point in not being honest enough to admit there’s things you don’t know. That’s not a negative. The negative is a false belief in your own limited knowledge. The negative is also a lack of ability (or inclination) to search out and use new information as it become relevant to the kinds of things you’re doing today and tomorrow.
Today, the smart person says “I don’t know. But I can learn!”
This is a big, big deal:
KPCB’s iFund is a $100M investment initiative that will fund market-changing ideas and products that extend the revolutionary new iPhone and iPod touch platform. The iFund is agnostic to size and stage of investment and will invest in companies building applications, services and components. Focus areas include location based services, social networking, mCommerce (including advertising and payments), communication, and entertainment. The iFund will back innovators pursuing transformative, high-impact ideas with an eye towards building independent durable companies atop the iPhone / iPod touch platform.
“A revolutionary new platform is a rare and prized opportunity for entrepreneurs, and that’s exactly what Apple has created with iPhone and iPod touch,” said John Doerr, Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. “We think several significant new companies will emerge as this new platform evolves, and the iFund will empower them to realize their full potential.”
“Developers are already bursting with ideas for the iPhone and iPod touch, and now they have the chance to turn those ideas into great companies with the help of world-class venture capitalists,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We can’t wait to start working with Kleiner Perkins and the companies they fund through this new initiative.”
Let a thousand flowers bloom.
In case you’re wondering what’s going on with this blog, I’m currently taking 2 courses for my Master of Educational Technology program at the University of British Columbia.
Plus doing some home reno, plus I have 3 kids, plus my wife seems to feel that somehow I ought to spend some time with her (odd, that), plus I have a full-time job (money: it’s a love/hate relationship).
So some things suffer.In any case, for my ETEC 522 course “Ventures in Learning Technology” we’re reviewing educational technology ventures: start-up businesses. Since one of the profs for the course is behind a social knowledge storage/management start-up called CrowdTrust, we’re putting most of our thoughts and comments into that system. (Here are mine.)
One thing I wanted to share here is a memo I wrote concerning a company’s pitch for VC money.
Hopefully I haven’t been too savage.