Reading this article in the New York times today, I can’t help but think that they are mostly right and a lot wrong. But maybe that’s because my circle of people is on the vanguard of the backlash?
If you haven’t read the NY Times today, it’s about Software vs. hardware, Enterprise vs. Consumerism.
As an enterprise start-up, Meraki has been impeded by its distance from the web scene. It simply does not have the same recognition as a consumer company whose products users (and potential recruits) interact with every day. “You say, ‘I work at Pinterest,’ and people know what that is — they use Pinterest,” Biswas said. “You tell them you work at Meraki, and they’re a little more reserved. They’re like, ‘What’s that?’
We know about Pinterest, Facebook, Google…we don’t always know how they make money, but we know they are big, and getting bigger…and it’s easy to attract talent when you can spend 19 Billion on an acquisition of a company like Snapchat!
Meraki, one of the companies featured in the article, make routers. What’s sexy about that? Not much…except that the internet runs on them. That lack of sex appeal makes it hard to attract top talent.
The brain drain from workaday to sexy is continuous. Back in the 1910s, my great-grandfather was a penny stock broker….he never made as much money as The Wolf of Wall Street…and his brother, the Rabbi and his other brother, the teacher, got more respect in the community that he did, even though he helped put them all through school.
In 100 years, the situation has flipped. Money and scale matters more than sustainability and humanity. The best and brightest would rather work in tech, at a startup or in high finance. I’m here in StartUp Chile and I see that so many startups are chasing the same things – and it’s not always clear why we need more ticket, travel and car rental deals, more professional exchange platforms. But many of the startups are trying to do something extraordinary – build new medical devices, raise money for health care costs.
Yesterday I saw Bureo Skateboards present to a large group, and I was impressed by their drive and vision. They are putting in tremendous work – six months and $40,000 (or more) from StartUP Chile to produce a prototype that they hope to crowdfund, and create a virtuous circle, removing some waste from the waste stream and making a product people love.
Will Bureo become a business? Right now, it’s a vision, an idea, momentum. It’s not a sustainable business, supporting it’s creators now and for the near future. Startups are ideas and are sexy. Businesses require sustained effort and, consequently, are *less* exciting!
How can we make the shift back to sustainability, where work and consistency are more valued than flash and scale?