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The Problem With Silicon Valley Is Itself - TNW Entrepreneur

The Problem With Silicon Valley Is Itself - TNW Entrepreneur
As a Brit who gave up cheerleading the European tech scene to make the pilgrimage to Silicon Valley to live, eat and breath the world’s leading hub for technology startup innovation, I’ve been largely unimpressed and disappointed by the quality of startups here. Living in San Francisco since January, I’ve interviewed around two hundred startups and there’s only two, out of two hundred, I think are game changers. Now, don’t get me wrong, Silicon Valley is an incredibly inspiring place to be. Groupon clone after Groupon clone, yawn… yet another social media dashboard, a cloud-based enterprise solution or, worse still, another photo sharing app; I’ve heard pitch after pitch of the same technology and keep wondering why all these highly intelligent, well educated youngsters, many of whom have been educated in the best universities in the world (Stanford, Yale and Harvard) are not putting their brains to good use by solving real-world problems. Not enough real-world problems Related:  Startups

What is The Best Thing About Being An Entrepreneur? Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness…the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man [or woman] could have dreamt would have come his [or her] way. -W. H. Murray in The Scottish Himalaya Expedition, 1951 I grew up in a military family and my parents aspired for me to become a postal clerk because, “you can’t get fired.” My first entrepreneurial endeavor was to start a bookkeeping business while I was an undergrad UCLA. When I graduated college, I wanted to be a writer. I returned to Texas and tried waitressing, which didn’t give me enough time to think and made my back hurt. Why not? In the meantime, I wrote a novel called TOM’S WIFE and began to market it to agents and editors. I turned to another project – a movie about Albert Einstein.

From creation myth to the reality of innovation today On the surface, Malcolm Gladwell’s latest article for The New Yorker, “Creation Myth: Xerox PARC, Apple, and the truth about innovation“, is a story about the mouse and how inventions travel – and evolve – across time and place. But examined more deeply, the article is really about the factors that determine whether you end up with an invention or an innovation. Simply put: “invention” is the manifestation of an idea or creation of something new. It doesn’t become an “innovation” until it’s applied successfully in practice – i.e., it reaches the market and impacts people’s lives. The story of PARC – and for that matter, any other innovative company – is indeed a mix of hopeful inventions, world-changing innovations, and missed opportunities, as Gladwell observes. On the challenges of invention and innovation 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. A note on the popular story of the mouse Speaking of the “expert mind”… There’s a nuance that’s often forgotten in popular retellings of the story of the mouse.

Startup Ideas We'd Like to Fund Startup Ideas We'd Like to Fund Paul Graham July 2008 When we read Y Combinator applications there are always ideas we're hoping to see. In the past we've never said publicly what they are. If we say we're looking for x, we'll get applications proposing x, certainly. But then it actually becomes harder to judge them: is this group proposing x because they were already thinking about it, or because they know that's what we want to hear? We don't like to sit on these ideas, though, because we really want people to work on them. Please don't feel that if you want to apply to Y Combinator, you have to work on one of these types of ideas. 1. The answer may be far afield. 2. 3. News will morph significantly in the more competitive environment of the web. 4. 5. One way to start is to make things for smaller companies, because they can't afford the overpriced stuff made for big ones. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. What we have now is basically print and TV advertising translated to the web. 13. 14.

Don’t Cede Control: Why You Need to Cut out Middle Men in Negotiations Middle Men. Middle People? They exist in all forms of work and life. Lawyers. We need them all. Let me start with an example. “That’s nuts!” “Because he told me that he wants the move in date to be X.” I said, “If I start with your position I have nowhere to go but down. She way annoyed. If you’ve never read Freakonomics you need to. I think for most of us this is intuitive. I started with a personal example because I’d like you to have that mindset as we discuss the business people in your lives. On the property in question, I had to wait an extra 4 weeks where I might have lost the place. 1. Executive recruiters are great at sourcing candidates. They’re also good at screening candidates. So you finally get down to your short list of final 2 candidates. First, I want to be the person looking my final candidate in the eyes and telling them what the offer is. You can’t outsource this to a recruiter. I’m also reluctant to hand over reference calling. 2. Their lawyers blame yours. 3. 4.

Silicon Valley: The Next Decade Posted on Thursday, Jun 2nd 2011 Amidst incessant talks of bubbles and baubles, it is clear that Silicon Valley is back. With a vengeance, no less. Innovation is back. Now is perhaps a good time to stop for a moment and reflect on what this coming decade will be all about for the Valley and its denizens. I will share some of my thoughts, but mostly, I’d like to hear from readers on what you’d like to see happen over the next decade in Silicon Valley. Philosophy My vision of what Silicon Valley needs to focus on is best described by the title of Michael Dertouzos’s book The Unfinished Revolution. For example, the technology that makes it possible for a digital worker in rural Africa or small-town India to work on data processing projects already exists. Similarly, the basic technology for telemedicine does exist, but the socioeconomic framework to connect willing doctors to needy patients around the world does not. In some of these areas, Silicon Valley has already played a phenomenal role.

Y Combinator Is Boot Camp for Startups | Magazine From left: Business boot campers Sandy Spicer (, Qasar Younis (TalkBin), John Egan (Sendoid), Jonathan Deutsch (Tumult), Aaron Harris (Tutorspree), Laura Valverde (Beetailer), and Wei Hsu: (Hyperink)Photo: Robyn Twomey The Y Combinator offices sit at the dead center of Silicon Valley, in Mountain View, on a street called Pioneer Way. Outside, the traffic hums along CA-z85 headed either south to Cupertino or north toward Google headquarters. Inside, the decor of the main room combines modern office (big whiteboard, bright orange noise-dampening panels) with camp dining hall (long trestle tables). Y Combinator shares space with a company called Anybots—which makes robots that can be controlled remotely—and occasionally a droid will motor through the room on a Segway-style base. On this November day, the Terminator itself could be roaming around the main room and the young men (and the occasional woman) gathered here wouldn’t notice. Joseph Walla, HelloFaxPhoto: Robyn Twomey

The Most Important Question Peter Thiel Asks Any Startup Looking For Money Why Silicon Valley Can't Sell Drive up and down the 101 Freeway in Silicon Valley, or cast your gaze north toward Seattle, and media companies, which expect to book over $20 billion in advertising in 2011, appear to be everywhere. But visit the biggest of these companies and ask them to define themselves, and you’ll be hard-pressed to get them to say they’re the new generation of media, attracting audiences for the purpose of selling advertising. “We’re a core technology company,” says Nikesh Arora, Google’s chief business officer, whose team netted $10 billion in U.S. ad sales for the search giant last year. “I don’t know [if we’re a media company], and to be honest, I’m not that interested in the answer,” says a slightly annoyed David Fischer, Facebook’s vice president of advertising, who sold $1.8 billion. “Microsoft is first a technology company,” says Keith Lorizio, the head of sales for the software giant’s advertising unit. The exceptions? The existence of the gap raises an uncomfortable question.

Sheryl Sandberg & Male-Dominated Silicon Valley In 2007, the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, knew that he needed help. His social-network site was growing fast, but, at the age of twenty-three, he felt ill-equipped to run it. That December, he went to a Christmas party at the home of Dan Rosensweig, a Silicon Valley executive, and as he approached the house he saw someone who had been mentioned as a possible partner, Sheryl Sandberg, Google’s thirty-eight-year-old vice-president for global online sales and operations. Zuckerberg hadn’t called her before (why would someone who managed four thousand employees want to leave for a company that had barely any revenue?) It turned out that Sandberg was ready for a new challenge. That winter, Sandberg met with Eric Schmidt, who was then the C.E.O. of Google, about her desire to do something else at the company. By February of 2008, Zuckerberg had concluded that Sandberg would be a perfect fit. Sandberg began work at Facebook in March, asking questions and listening.

From lean startups to open innovation success Serial entrepreneur and Harvard Business School Entrepreneur-in-Residence Eric Ries delivered an insightful and entertaining talk on his Lean Startup methodology at the PARC Forum invited expert speaker series last week. (This is part of the Entrepreneurial Spirit series; you can see the other speakers and videos here.) Don’t let the word “startup” fool you – according to Eric’s definition, a startup is any organization of any size dedicated to creating something new under conditions of uncertainty. I’m not going to restate all of his points in this post. Instead, I want to share how we’ve been practicing similar concepts at PARC, and compare and contrast some specific Lean Startup methods with PARC’s practices in Open Innovation. The science behind the art: what both entrepreneurs and inventors have in common Both of these maxims represent statements that are easier said than done. For example, PARC uses several techniques to create conditions that stimulate discovery.

Feature: The End Of Silicon Valley, The Rise Of Student Bedrooms It’s the end of summer in the northern hemisphere. And in Silicon Valley, it’s the end of an era. The garage days are over. It’s time to move on. The future belongs to the dorm. Stanford begat Silicon Valley. Many of the biggest companies of the 20th century were created by university kids taking a chance. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started HP in a garage in 1939. Today that Apple garage is a nerd landmark. With Steve Jobs’s exit from Apple, and HP shuffling out of the personal computer business altogether, this (northern) summer marked the end of the silicon era of Silicon Valley. Hugely ambitious hardware startups are not launching out of Palo Alto or Menlo Park garages anymore these days. There are still startups in Silly Valley, of course. What has happened in Silicon Valley is what has happened to America at large. Today the Valley belongs to Google and Facebook, companies that launched in off-campus apartments and computer labs. The garage isn’t available anymore.

Three Little Words Every Leader Needs to Learn - Rosabeth Moss Kanter by Rosabeth Moss Kanter | 12:14 PM May 7, 2009 There are three little words that extraordinary leaders know how to say, and I’m not thinking of “I love you” (but those are pretty good). The magic words are “I was wrong.” Husbands and wives know that saying those words to each other can be even more endearing than endearments. When leaders say them to their teams in a timely fashion, they build confidence and can move on to a better path. The simple sentence “I was wrong” is the hardest for leaders to utter and the most necessary for them to learn. Alan Greenspan came close to saying it in the heat of the global financial meltdown, but not quite. Former President Bill Clinton is slightly better at saying it. If a leader cannot admit being wrong in a timely fashion, he or she can never correct mistakes, change direction, and restore success. Some people find it so hard to admit a mistake that they dig themselves into a deeper hole even when given an easy chance to correct themselves.

So you want to do a startup, eh? Silicon valley is a technology hub – could it ever be cloned? This past week, I've been in the heart of Silicon Valley: Palo Alto, California. Within a half hour's train journey, you can be at the offices of Apple, Facebook and Google, as well as dozens of start-ups who might be the next internet giant. There are two main reasons, I think, that California is the place people go to if they're a tech start-up (nod to my older brothers, currently working on one The first is the great pool of talent present here, and the second is the huge amount of investment and mentoring available to that talent. Change our attitude If you went up to someone on the street in Dublin and told them that it was possible for Ireland to be the next Silicon Valley, you'd get laughed at. What I'm talking about it Silicon Valley is this… aura of productivity in the air. An encouraging technology industry At the time of writing, a deep interest in technology is seen as nerdy and uncool. Get start-ups [caption id="attachment_24930" align="alignleft" width="240"]