The Pessimistic View of Silicon Valley

Scott Francis
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(Ironic to be posting this on the heels of the ATC CEO Summit… )

Steve Blank occasionally gets down in the dumps about Silicon Valley, as in his latest:

We can hope that as the Social Media wave runs its course a new wave of innovation will follow. We can hope that some VC’s remain contrarian investors and avoid the herd. And that some of the newly monied social media entrepreneurs invest in their dreams. But if not, the long-term consequences for our national interests will be less than optimum.

Steve has a point.  Maybe we’ll all waste our time chasing social media dreams (or “features” as people used to put just a few short months or years ago).  But some of these toys have had really surprising consequences for our national interests – that little toy called Twitter, for one.  Not to mention, Facebook. Google.  And blaming Facebook seems misdirected.  They took a relatively long time to go public (8 years+?), they have real revenue and profits.  They’re a real company.  The dot-com bubble companies that went public with little revenue and no profits, and no business model did far more harm than Facebook has ever done.

We didn’t lever the same criticisms against LinkedIn, did we?

Meanwhile, Steve lists just a few companies or projects that are “game changing” (or might be) but leaves out others that may or may not be.  And I look at Kickstarter and I see great opportunities for hardware and product innovation.  New ways of raising capital are bound to lead to new business models and new products, just as the advent of venture capital resulted in new business formations.

Maybe I’m just too optimistic, living in Austin – but to me the future still looks bright for Silicon Valley, and startups in general.