I’ve seen it time and time again: the argument that the internet is a
meritocracy - a system in which the most talented and able are rewarded.
This argument is especially popular in the world of startups, where
we're told that the best and brightest rise to the top.
I recently read an article in Forbes, The Fable Of Market Meritocracy,
which addresses the concept of meritocracies in markets generally. It
got me thinking about the internet, and whether or not the internet
really is a meritocracy.
What happens when you start a group on Facebook and two weeks later,
you have over 180,000 members? If you're 21 year-old Tiffany Philippou,
the creator of the hit Facebook group Secret London, you do the
entrepreneurial thing: try to parlay your Facebook popularity into a
bona fide startup.
After a 48-hour crowdsourcing marathon during which more money was spent on
food and liquor than on design and development, Secret London was
reinvented and launched as a standalone online community.
Malcolm Gladwell has a knack for distilling interesting observations and drawing bold conclusions.
He's at it again in a fresh New Yorker piece. In it, Gladwell argues that
successful entrepreneurs aren't really the prolific risk-takers they're made out to be. What are they?
They're predators who pinpoint opportunity and swoop in just when the time is right.
In response to Jason Calacanis’ war on individuals and organizations
who charge entrepreneurs money to pitch their startups to investors, I
made the point that the biggest scam perpetrated on entrepreneurs is
the promotion of the idea that raising money from professional investors is
something entrepreneurs should do if they want to be successful.
The truth of the matter is that angels and VCs are great, if you’re a member of the ‘startup establishment’, as Calacanis is.
Jason Calacanis has declared war on organizations that charge
entrepreneurs to pitch investors on their startups. With "boiling
blood", he used a post on his blog this weekend to shame these
organizations and to threaten them with extinction.
Singled out: a number of groups, including the well-known Keiretsu
Forum. All of which charge entrepreneurs fees to present their
businesses to "rich angel investors" who Calacanis believes are
exploiting "poor" entrepreneurs.
If TechCrunch's Sarah Lacy is to be believed, Silicon Valley has lost
its way. There was once a golden era of innovation in which every
startup sought to change the world (and make billions of dollars in the
So to get Silicon Valley back on track, Lacy is sending a message to
startups: "you're supposed to be changing the world, remember?"
For most of us, failure is something to be avoided. After all, who really likes attempting to accomplish something and not succeeding?
But there's an inconvenient truth: failure is underrated. In many cases, it's a prerequisite for success and those who embrace it and learn from it have a strategic advantage over those who won't and can't.
When you visualize the quintessential startup, you probably see intelligent and optimistic people working together to solve big challenges. After all, a group of individuals usually has to be somewhat smart to get a new business off the ground and the group probably has to be relatively optimistic to find the motivation to face big challenges and succeed.
But forget what you think you know about the characteristics it takes to succeed. They just might not be accurate.
PROfoundersCapital is a venture capital fund established for entrepreneurs in the digital media space, and backed by investors including Brent Hoberman and Michael Birch.
I've been talking to General Partner Rogan Angelini-Hurll about the aims of the fund, and what he will be looking for in entrepreneurs seeking investment...
Future news organisations, the ones that make it out of the recession, will look much different than pre-recession times. They'll be smaller and leaner. But if they're smart, they'll also have a big role in VC for companies developing products that could help them gain a competitive advantage.