Monthly Archives: February 2006

Lost Cause

The other day I was talking to a entrepreneur friend of mine about how to get acquired by a Yahoo! or Google.

This person had noted that they had tried to get in many times to show something they were working on and could not. It wasn’t their technology; I took a look at it and it was pretty cool on its own. But for some reason, Yahoo! and Google just would not give this company some time to present their technology. I noted to this person that it may be a “lost cause”.

By “lost cause” I don’t mean that Yahoo! and Google are lost causes as businesses. What I meant was that it may be a lost cause for the entrepreneur in trying to get air time with the Yahoos and Googles of the world.

What could cause it to be “lost cause”?

I find that there are two reasons for the “lost cause” label. The first being organizational defects, and the second being the people themselves.

Organizational defects:

Basically, too much work and unaligned goals. Sometimes an org places so much work on an individual where he just can’t think clearly about anything else but what he has to get done now. So all future, innovative stuff goes down in the dumper. He can barely get the stuff he has now done, let alone freeing up brain space to process new stuff.

As for unaligned goals, here is an example. At a major internet company, the goals of a general manager of a business unit were very numbers driven. I make my numbers, I get a raise. I don’t, no raise. Anything that clearly helps me make my numbers gets first priority. Anything else that is unclear in driving towards me making my numbers (hence my goals) is shoved down the priority chain. So you show up with your nice tool, but there are about hundred other things that this GM knows could make his numbers faster in the short term and decides he doesn’t have time to talk to you.

People defects:

Some people just can’t grasp the big picture. They can’t see broadly where things could fit in. They may be smart, and great operations folks and get lots of things done, but sometimes can’t figure out how to integrate a new thing. This relates to multi-tasking ability, ability to handle information overload, general creativity, and physical/mental/emotional energy. When you’re in a place like a Yahoo! or a Google, you’re running at 1000 MPH. You get the physical/mental/emotional energy sucked out of you, and you can’t multi-task or handle all this information and you are back to just doing what is placed on your desk at that time.

Again, new, innovative stuff just falls off the plate.

The entrepreneur suffers because he could be selling his technology to a prominent company; the company suffers because they may be missing something they should be integrating.

How do we, as a society of businesses, do better?

Fucked Companies

How funny was the site Fucked Company back in the day.
But now it seems very quiet on the personal attacks and sensational content front. It is filled with rumors, but it seems so dry. I find that Valleywag is much better at the fun, outrageous stuff you want to know about each internet company. Think gossip magazine for Web 2.0.
But I did find something useful. I dug up my copy of F’d Companies by Philip Kaplan who is the founder of the site.
I love his brash and cutting style on writing about these dot-com boom era companies. Companies that had such ridiculous, or no business models and were getting unbelievable funding. As I thumb through its pages, I reminisce about those days where us naive Internet pioneers thought that anything should be tried, and who knew what would work and what would not. And all these money people tried to jump on the bandwagon, fund any company whatsoever, and try to take the most ridiculous companies IPO in an attempt to score big.
But now, I find I am drawn back to some of the businesses in that book. In today’s Web, things are different. Now some of these businesses that failed could realistically be tried again. In fact, I just read an article about some venture fund guys who were precisely “mining” old Industry Standard and Wired magazines just for that reason. Sometimes a tweak is all it takes.
I am hoping to find some ideas in F’d Companies and see if they work today. But I also think that some of the ideas were truly F’d and should never again see the light of day!

Trendspotting, Latest Business Ideas

I found these two websites one day while looking for new ideas as well as marketing information on emerging trends.
Very cool reporting on all the crazy things going on out there. You can sign up for a newsletter, and also search their database.
A website that talks about new business ideas from the same network of trendspotters that their sister site, uses. Sign up for this newsletter as well.
Important data for all entrepreneurs and marketers alike…


These last two days have been incredibly busy. We’ve driven all over the Bay area now, meeting up with people we’ve been introduced to.
Some items of note:
1. Gotta have a great personal brand. Otherwise, why would someone introduce you to one of their buddies in the VC world?
2. Try to find the good people. So many VCs are into the money and that’s where the term “sharks” comes from, and they always want something. We’ve been really fortunate to have been introduced to many who have offered their help to a bunch of amateurs like us.
3. Making the connections is crucial. Who knows when you’ll need some other people to go into a deal with? Or, they can help you with deal flow they see by referring deals to you that are more appropriate for your model versus theirs, and likewise.
4. More and more entrepreneurs are popping up. It’s nice to see this happening with previous associates. Many are starting up things and now looking for funding. As soon as they hear what we have to offer, they really like what we bring – experience, connections, help.
If only now we had the money….Onwards to fund raising. Our paperwork is almost done!