The following article — after my “intro turned rant” — is a good backgrounder on the Google model.
Google uses the world as its laboratory, launching and then morphing or killing many, many applications (see Google Labs). Microsoft, on the other hand, uses the “million monkeys on a million typewriters for a million years” theory. Ok, that’s a bit harsh, but it was the best chance in a long time I’ve had to use that phrase! Microsoft really uses the Big Bang theory.
Google’s model is more of a “startup” model, while Microsoft’s is definitely a “big business” model. Yahoo’s model is in between. Yahoo’s concept is called Yahoo Brickhouse, but it’s leader just left. Now Microsoft is trying to acquire Yahoo, which sounds like an ugly mess to me. And Microsoft says it’s going to go more open source, which sounds like the wolf offering to guard the sheep.
Anyway, what’s interesting, but not surprising, as you’ll see in a minute, is how hard these huge companies try to simulate startups. Yes, the startup environment is extremely valuable, but, sorry guys, it cannot be replicated in a large company no matter how hard you try or how much money you spend. In fact, it’s the “spend money” part that totally kills the fantasy. You simply cannot recreate the hunger and drive of a bootstrapping startup with things money can buy. It’s just not possible. Ok, maybe Arnold can do it, but in the real world it has to be real.
At real startups it’s life or death. At simulated startups it’s life or another Soy Chai Latte from the free coffee bar. At real startups, we take the bus. At simulated startups, they take the party jet.
Down here, in bootstrap startup world, it’s dirty and risky. There are no corporate jets, free lattes or other pamperments (yes, I like to make up words, too). Down here, we’re in the garage eating leftovers, not in the Penthouse waiting for our butler to bring some more Grey Poupon. Down here, the pizza is cold, the beer is warm and the nights are late. It’s real. There are no cushy salaries to fall back on. There are no safety nets. It’s life or death. You cannot simulate that environment and there is no halfway. It’s either real or not real.
Not even all those people cashing out of Google to launch or join startups can recreate the real startup environment. Maybe they can get close, maybe even “better” in some ways, but there’s a huge difference. They have a safety net called millions of dollars in the bank. Sure, they can create plenty of venture-funded startups, and some of those will be successful, but those are totally different animals. They are driven by investors, board meetings, and burn rates. Real startups are driven by hunger and the creativity it spurs, as discussed in this NYT article: Empty-Stomach Intelligence. Google, Amazon, Yahoo, eBay, YouTube, Apple, etc. all got their initial start the “real” way.
Real startups are real. Venture-funded startups are venture-funded. Ok, they’re “real,” too, in that they exist, but that’s the kind of “real” we’re talking about here in this rant — we’re talking about the “bootstrap or die” kind!
Real startups are making the trends, the venture-funded startups are copying the trends. It’s like the suburban kids coming into the gritty parts of the city to play “cool.” It doesn’t work. They are followers and posers who stick out like sore thumbs. When they finally figure out where the “scene” is, the scene moves on without them and the cycle repeats. That’s just how it goes. It’s so funny how the rich kids and companies want to play down here, but can’t, because it’s just not possible when you get dropped off in mommy’s Mercedes or Google’s party jet. There’s nothing wrong with fancy cars and fancy jets, they are sweet, but they are soft, not edgy; pampered, not hungry.
Now on to the article: Continue reading