For those of you going to SXSW, I’ll be on the Seed Combinators Panel on Monday March 15 3:30pm. I’m joining Paul Graham, David Cohen, Marc Nathan, and Joshua Baer to talk about YStars, TechCombinators, SeedBoxes, and the like. Here’s the Plancast if you want me to “count you in.”
I’m also throwing a meetup on SundayMarch 14 5-7pm in the Four Seasons Lobby Lounge at 98 San Jacinto Blvd.
If you’re a Venture Hacker, please come talk to me about your startup and venture hacking at these two events. I’m looking forward to pressing the flesh and kissing some babies.
Perhaps not in this incarnation – remember the first iPod? But the concept is very, very important for two reasons:
- It’s the first computing device that’s social in the real world. The iPhone is something that one person uses at a time. The Laptop screen faces you – two people using it at one time is awkward. iPad style devices can be shared in the real world – imagine laying it flat and playing multiplayer games facing each other, or watching a movie together, or even showing someone a web page – far easier than on any other device.
- It runs the iPhone OS. Why do users need to know what a file system is? Or map the interactions of a moving block of plastic onto a screen (mice)? Or worry about memory management? Or multiple levels of trash-delete? Or the concept of multiple, mounted volumes? Or which network you’re connected to?
Basically, the iPad is (a) usable by the other 5.5 Billion humans, and (b) it can enhance real, physical human interactions. These two facts alone make it a worthy successor to the iPod and iPhone. Steve isn’t ready to start filling niche markets just yet. He’s still looking to rule the world.
Y Combinator* is the new Graduate School.
In some ways, it’s better:
- You pay to go to graduate school. YC pays you.
- After school, you get a job. After YC, you create jobs.
- You repeat the works of the greats in school. YC expects you to do original work.
- In school, you are graded on an arbitrary scale by arbitrary people. After YC, you are graded by the real world.
Some day, most schools in most disciplines will be like this.
* – Of course, “Y Combinator” is a generic term for Techstars, I/O Ventures, SeedCamp, Capital Factory, Founders Institute, and all of the other similar pre-angel incubators.
For years I didn’t believe this. I thought that you could take advantage of the benefits of Boston, Seattle, NY, Austin – cheaper talent, no echo chamber, local Universities, etc.. But I give up. I found myself telling an entrepreneur why he had to be in Silicon Valley if he wanted to succeed. Most of my points are about Consumer Internet businesses…
I won’t belabor the obvious reasons – the Investors are here, the best engineers and entrepreneurs self-select and come here, Stanford and Berkeley, yadda yadda.
Instead, here are some points that you may not have considered:
- Especially on the Consumer Internet, modern businesses are becoming winner-take-all (thanks to leverage and network effects). Therefore, if you’re 10% better than the competition, you win, likely the whole market. You need every possible edge…
- All of the companies that you need to partner with are out here. Business development doesn’t happen in formal meetings. It happens in informal coffees, parties, and relationships.
- If you are here, your network will be using all of the latest tools – Twitter, Foursquare, Quora, Nexus One, etc., before other networks in other cities will. These networks hit critical mass here earlier and are thus more valuable to the early adopters here. You’ll have a 3-month+ head start on people outside to see what’s coming next. Imagine trying to design next year’s clothing without firsthand immersion in this year’s fashion, in Milan or Paris.
Sure, it’s possible to build a great Consumer Internet business starting out somewhere else, but given that these are winner-take-all businesses, do you want to start out that far behind the curve?
More of a warning so you know where not to go, I suppose…
I’ll be on a panel at the “Future of Funding” event in San Mateo on February 18th.
More information here:
The Growth of Small Firms
February 18, 2010
Description: There are an increasing number of venture capital firms with smaller and smaller fund sizes. These firms are starting to see some interesting returns, while remaining popular with entrepreneurs. What is working? What is not? This panel will explore how some of the small firms are investing and looking for big wins.
- Moderator: Matt Marshall, CEO and Editor, VentureBeat
- Mike Maples Jr., Managing Partner, Maples Investments
- Rob Hayes, Partner, First Round Capital
- Reid Hoffman, Partner, Greylock Partners
If you’d like to attend and if we know each other, please contact me and I might be able to obtain a discounted pass for you.