readings of this week

16 04 2010
Better late than never, that’s what I always say.  So as always, boiled down for you, the best of the readings of the week:

The 15 Startups I Would Invest in if I Had the Cash – Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry for Business Insider

As an MBA interested in moving into the VC/startup realm, I think this type of article is the best.  A listing of the most intriguing startups the author knows of, why he thinks their business model was brilliant, and where they are now.  I’d love to read an article like this for all the other big VC’s out there (John Doerr, Ron Conway, etc).  What would they invest in today, if they had the time/money to invest in anything and everything (although they both could invest in anything they want, so maybe that is a moot point).  And this would be a great running article for a blog that interviewed entrepreneurs too.  Where do they see value, and why?  A very cool look inside his decision making process.

Building to Flip vs. Building to Last – Steve Case at Stanford
This is part of a larger talk that Steve Case (former CEO at AOL) gave at a Stanford.  He is challenging entrepreneurs: are you in it to change the world?  or are you seeing an early exit?  There seems to be a sub-startup culture, especially at places like Google, where former employees “spin-off” a startup, with the idea that if the idea holds water and a product can be created, Google will buy them back for big money in the near future.  I don’t see a huge problem with that.  But I think the only way to start real world-changing businesses is to actually be out to change the world.  People give Mark Zuckerberg a lot of trouble for not selling out, but if he had sold out several years ago (or taken on additional VC funding) the Facebook we know of probably wouldn’t exist today.  The VCs are the ones who are supposed to invest the money and be wary of the risks – the entrepreneurs are (supposed) to be pedal to the metal, guns blazing to change the world!  Steve Case asks a great question here.

Someone on Hacker News put up a great comment when I posted this earlier this week: this article is something that would be covered at a crappy entrepreneur conference.  Totally true.  But the takeaway is still good: you can’t make a $2,500 car by just incrementally improving a Ford Explorer or even a Taurus.  To make radical change, you have to frame it as such and then start from scratch.  You have to question everything that is standard and push a little harder on the norm to get real improvement.

Hacking Venture Capital: A Taxonomy – Brad Hargreaves on his blog, startup adventures in NYC
In this article, Brad breaks down the many schools of thought that are emerging on the VC model, then analyzes the pos and neg of each.  Very quick but insightful read.

Is Google’s Eric Schmidt Scared of Steve Jobs? – Farhad Manjoo for Slate Magazine
Farhad absolutely nails something here that I never realized.  I really like Eric Schmidt.  I think he is absolutely brilliant.  But I always think of Larry and Sergei as running the company.  I admire Steve Jobs.  I would love, as Bill Campbell does, to take a walk around the neighborhood with Steve.  But if he ever wanted to invest in one of my projects, I’d probably shit my pants.  He is beyond sharp (as you may read in the HBS article below) he is tactical, he is strategic, he is always ready for the kill.  Steve Jobs scares me, and Eric Schmidt is a really nice guy.  Who is afraid of who, it might be too early to tell.  Another good point by Farhad is that Google believes they are running a marathon compared to Apple’s sprint.  They aren’t really focusing on the hardware, despite all the hardware they are beginning to put out.  While I agree with that to a degree, if the iPad catches on with the education market (which I believe it really could) and possibly with the medical industry, then look out.  Those revenue streams could keep Apple sprinting through the entire marathon.

To Steve or Not to Steve? – Glenn Kelman, TechCrunch
More Steve Jobs article-love.  This one is more aimed at the man’s management style.  Taking a step back and saying “thanks for bringing me the deliverable on time, but is it killer?” is a great question.  Putting out bad work just to be on time is a waste of everyones time!

Inside Apple’s Automatic Graphics Switching – Chris Foreseman for ars technica
Not too much to say here.  If you ever wanted to learn about how some of Apple’s awesome geekery works, just check the article.

Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos Meet “Ginger” – part of Steve Kemper’s book, Code Name Ginger
This is the insiders take on an investor meeting with Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, and John Doerr.  Knowing what we know about how the Segway market turned out, this meeting is very insightful.  The different personalities, the way to run a meeting, all of it is just amazing.  Can’t wait till the rest of the book comes in from Amazon.

Derek Jeter Still Vintage as Seasons Change – Ian O’Connor for ESPN
It’s no secret I’m a Yankees fan, so I definitely read every article on the night they got the rings.  Now being in Boston, I can’t get every game on the TV (thank god for Slingbox and MLB.tv) so sometimes I have to catch up from the writers.  In this case, O’Connor really nails the emotions.  Derek Jeter is a pretty amazing guy, and I think all baseball fans will miss him when he is gone.  Not to mention he is apparently quite the prankster!  Imagine lives like Jeter’s, Lebron, Kobe.  Jeter literally got a hold of the World Series Ring for Matsui and switched it out??  I mean how do you do that?  Only if you’re Jeet.

And of course I would be absolutely remiss if I didn’t include my favorite TED talk from this week (and a top 10 maybe ever).  After TED2010, when all the chatter swirled up about TED being elitist because some people got shut out blah blah blah, it was so so refreshing to watch an animated, passionate, and straightforward talk.  I can promise you, there isn’t a single buzzword here as Temple Grandin presents “The World Needs All Kinds of Minds”

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