Tag Archives: Microsoft

Startups, who’s in to be Apple?

Like most of Nerd America I started Reading the Steve Jobs Biography last night. I got in some good reading at the gym this morning and started thinking. I haven’t made it to the Apple years yet, but as I was reading it, thinking about Apple, about Jobs, startups and about death, a notion started forming.

Who’s going to step up and be Apple? Heck, where are our Hewlett and Packard? Our Michael Dell? ¬†Bill Gates?

I work in a space with a fair amount of startups, and being so close to Boulder I hear about a lot more of them, and of course I’m in the Silicon Valley for events a fair bit too, and of course I follow my friend Eric Norlin. So I’m not uninformed when it comes to startups.

I know there’s awesome startups out there doing cool things (like Bloom). I work in the same building as one. But in looking at them and at most other startups, I wonder, who’s solving tomorrow’s problems? Who’s working on making the next big thing? NOT the next thing for AOL or Google to acquire. It seems that most startups are starting to be bought by someone, existing more than 5 years isn’t in the plans. That certainly is the exit that makes the most financial sense for their backers, and the founders even. I wonder sometimes if our VC and Angel worlds are so wrapped up in ‘quick bucks’ and early exits, that they’re encouraging young founders to not focus on building companies that can or will be around 20 or 30 years. Let alone build companies that are focused on tomorrow’s problems. Sure messy contacts, old school comic readers, and lack of robot balls are problems worth solving, that’s not my point. My point is there should be a balance, and I don’t see it.

Looking at Techstars and Ycombinator I see awesome companies making cool things like gMail plugins and robot balls with LEDs in them, and new takes on training sites, sites about treating musicians like stock, and such. But I wonder will any of them exist in 5-10 years? I suspect not. They’ll either have folded up and moved on, or been absorbed into some other larger thing. And that’s ok in it’s own right, but where does that leave us? The Country of Dell and HP and Apple and Microsoft? I feel like it leaves us with a sad lack of innovative long term tech companies. VCs are bitching about immigration policy not letting tech founders into the country in high enough numbers. I’d argue the gov’t should be looking at these VCs and asking where the companies that will lead innovation are and why they aren’t helping build them? I’d be thrilled to let the next Bill Gates in on a Startup Visa, but not if he plans to simply build something he can sell to Microsoft for a quick buck.

I know in startup circles and no doubt in VC circles getting acquired is a win. In my book it isn’t. I remember sitting around beers with some friends talking about a company in Boulder that was bought before it even left private beta. To me that was a fail. Sure they made out like bandits, everyone got paid. But they were barely a business, they had maybe a few customers, maybe a few hundred, but they were beta testers not paying customers. I suspect that’s why I’m drawn towards brick and mortar style businesses. Conferences, coworking, etc. Because those businesses are immune or less politely often excluded from the hub bub of tech investing. Therefore for the most part they require bootstrapping which it seems so many startups can’t or won’t do. I’ve seen ideas live and die based on acceptance to Techstars. While I have no doubt Brad Feld and co. know a winner or at least a good horse when they see it, I’m sure they’d agree they can’t see all the winners (or losers) all the time.

That kinda brings this all back around for me. I’ve never asked for money or (at least yet) taken out a bank loan for 360|Conferences or Uncubed. I live and die by what I can do on my own (or with partners as the case may be). In both cases i think to myself often, are these businesses that will be around in 10 years? Can they be a legacy, can I actually do something good with them? I think both can. I don’t know if either will, but I think both can, and I’m happy to try and find out. I think both started for the right reasons. Trying to change systems that exist, for the better of the communities they exist in, ¬†which to me is the right reason to start a business. Will I get rich? be acquired by someone? Probably not on both counts, but that’s ok because that wasn’t and isn’t my motivator. I like money don’t get me wrong :) I want to live a comfortable life, but that’s the extent of it. I don’t need to make something someone else wants to buy so I can pay back investors and retire at 35.

I wonder if startup founders go to bed at night thinking about the future. Not the future where they get bought, where tech crunch writes them up and they secure yet another round of funding. A future where they employ thousands. A future where they and their product/service are shaping lives. A future where they make a difference for more than a year. Sure payroll next month is important, press is important I’m not discounting that, but if they’re not thinking about 10 years from now, I’d say they’re doing it at least a little wrong.

 

The Wrist, Valuable Realestate

I was reading this article the other day, and it pretty much jived with my review(one and two) of the ‘iWatch’

There’s plenty of “I just use my iPhone, why would i want a watch?” people, and that’s fine, as with all things, it takes all kinds. I have a nice large watch box, full of nice analog and digital watches, and now my iWatch. I’ll probably wear watches forever, or I should say, something on my wrist.

 

I’ve joked with friends, but from the moment i got my first iPod Touch, I’ve been on the look out for something that would make it wearable on a wrist. iOS doesn’t really lend itself (sadly!) to landscape orientation, but android (mostly) does. I wouldn’t care that I’d invite being beaten up.

I hate talking on my phone, I dread it. I’ve thought, and still do about ditching my iPhone, getting an iPod Touch, and just having a blackberry or android phone. I really want a multi purpose computer, that’s easily accessible, always on me, etc.

A watch, or watch like device is the perfect thing. Easy to type on (though obviously not a replacement for a phone if you’re a lotsa email, texting type of person, but for firing off a quick “Im here” sms, etc.

I think the first step will be a connected watch type thing. As mentioned in the article, a watch that lets you accept/decline phone calls, shows your calendar, etc. Either from a connected device from Bluetooth, or with it’s own connection to the internet.

But I do think eventually we’ll have a device, the size of an iPhone or so, that fits comfortably on a wrist, has a camera for facetiming/skyping, etc. I’ll be glad when that time comes. I’d love to not worry about where I sat my phone down? Did I leave it at the bar, or at home? etc.

A device like this, if it’s where my watch would be, becomes less a gadget and more a part of my life, something I grab when I’m getting dressed.

 

Can’t wait!

Microsoft taking a lesson from Wal-Mart.

I’d say the end is nigh, but for Microsoft to be hiring a Wal-Mart exec to manage their (third? second?) retail store, the end is about 100 yeards back there some where.

I gotta say, Microsoft’s problems are many, and large, and it’s sad that they’re going down a path of copying Apple (poorly), rather than actually working to fix the problems. Dell and Gateway both thought (to their own detriment) that a retail store was the savior of their business. Now it seems Microsoft is doing the same.

PC makers, Microsoft, listen to us, we’re mac people. IT’S NOT THE STORE.

It’s the entire package.

It’s the OS that wasn’t a shitty re-write of System 7,8 or 9

It’s the hardware that isn’t plastic, that feels sturdy in your hand.

It’s the genius bar that will help my mom eject a DVD and help me troubleshoot a faulty Wireless card.

Throwing open a store front to sell Office 2009, Windows 7, and a bunch of lame keyboards and mice, NOT THE SOLUTION.

Oh and hiring someone from Wal-Mart? Really? Is that the image Microsoft wants? Low quality low price leader? Vlasic pickles in 2 gallon jars? Failed MP3 store?

Microsoft has officially jumped the shark I’m afraid.

Windows 7 looks nice, i’ll admit, I played with the beta a bit, but really, Microsoft needs to follow Apple’s lead. START OVER. Sure Apple didn’t start from scratch, Microsoft doesn’t have to either, buy some one else, some one with a better product (that would be anyone), make it Windows X or something.

Can Seinfeld help Windows’ image NO

AppleInsider reports, that one of my fave comedians, Jerry Seinfeld, will be schilling for Microsoft on their new and terribly named, “Windows not Walls” campaign.

ok 1. they might as well have taken that 10 mil, and just started mailing random checks to people, for all the good this will do. The Care Bears couldn’t hep with M$’s image. If you’re not a die hard “enterprise” user or windowz fanboy, you simply don’t care what they say, when their products are lame, useless, and/or unstable.

2. “The ads will use some variation of the slogan “Windows, Not Walls,”according to the report, and “stress breaking down barriers thatprevent people and ideas from connecting.” They’ll be just one part ofa much broader $300 million campaign, however, which is said to be oneof the largest in Microsoft’s history.

Uh, last time I checked, it was Windows that was blocking people from connecting and slowing idea flow down. outlook, fine, but bloated, sharepoint… well it’s sharepoint, almost like a large sucking vortex of information.

In the competition between PCs and Macs, we outsell Apple 30-to-1. Butthere is no doubt that Apple is thriving,” Microsoft chief executiveSteve Ballmer wrote in the email to employees last month. “Why? Becausethey are good at providing an experience that is narrow but complete,while our commitment to choice often comes with some compromises to theend-to-end experience.

Again, I think that’s more windows. I will say, Apple has a leg up and it’s not M$’s fault. there’s no knock offs, and no other provider of hardware. If you buy a macbook Pro, it’s made of metal, made the same as all others (except for the random and sadly increasing number of really shitty ones that make it to customers), and it works like all it’s little shiny brothers and sisters. Windowz is running on any POS plastic laptop to come out of any third world, quality be-damned. That’s not M$’s fault.

What’s funny, when I read the headline, my first thought was, “Wasn’t it always a Mac in Seinfeld?”

Sure enough, “Ironically, the computers featured in the 9-year situation comedy Seinfeld, for which the comedian payed a semi-fictional version of himself, were always Macs.