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PenLUG Talk: Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control

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Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control, How Silicon Valley Got Its Groove Back.

A completely uncalled-for talk by David Weekly for PenLUG on 11/9/06

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PenLUG Talk: Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control

  1. 1. Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control How Silicon Valley Got Its Groove Back A completely uncalled-for talk by David Weekly for PenLUG on 11/9/06 Given on a Windows laptop with PowerPoint because I am tactless.
  2. 2. Why Are We Here? <ul><li>Great Weather </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of Geeks </li></ul><ul><li>Full of Possibility (& Hard Work) </li></ul>
  3. 3. Why Did Silicon Valley Happen? <ul><li>Brain concentration: Stanford & Berkeley </li></ul><ul><li>Love-fest of Ideas </li></ul><ul><ul><li>70’s Hippy Children of 50’s Nerds </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Homebrew Computer Club (75-77) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>West Coast Computer Faire (77-83) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The beginning of computer affordability </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Money? <ul><li>Wasn’t the big thought, was about sharing </li></ul><ul><li>Software hadn’t made it big </li></ul><ul><li>Hardware was either huge (IBM) or hobbyist (Altair) </li></ul><ul><li>Just make the damn thing, it’ll be cool. </li></ul>
  5. 5. dotCom Era <ul><li>Widescale computer deployment seeded by the First Wave meets access (AOL). </li></ul><ul><li>Starts With 3DO IPO (1993) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>First IPO of a zero-product company </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Public ownership drive => liquidity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Big payouts with hype drove rapid VC dev. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. dotCom Era <ul><li>Both beginning and end marked by public market involvement. </li></ul><ul><li>Investment was required for innovation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hardware, software, hosting = expensive! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>No capital, no product. </li></ul>
  7. 7. dotCom Era <ul><li>Proprietary Thinking </li></ul><ul><ul><li>NDA proliferation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Closed source </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Crazy availability of capital plus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Large, quick liquidity events </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>makes people idea hoarders </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>…and these were MBAs, not hippy geeks </li></ul></ul></ul>
  8. 8. IPOs <ul><li>Allow for public ownership = good </li></ul><ul><li>De facto pyramid scheme = bad </li></ul><ul><li>Enron => Sarbanes-Oxley = dead </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Post 2002, no easy IPOs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>$2m/year, personal liability </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. post dotCom <ul><li>No more quick money => flakes gone </li></ul><ul><ul><li>...but geeks stayed! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Hardware continues commoditization </li></ul><ul><li>Open Source™ software steps up </li></ul><ul><li>Huge ’99 telco investments => cheap bandwidth </li></ul>
  10. 10. What’s Amazing Now? <ul><li>Execution is cheap </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Nearly free storage, CPU, bandwidth </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Free, Open Source LAMP stack </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Execution is easy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mature development tools & libraries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>There was no good answer before </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Browser JS = new platform for innovation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Monetization is possible </li></ul><ul><ul><li>AdSense, PayPal, CC processing </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. What’s Different? <ul><li>Homebrew Computer Club (1975) = New Ideas Every Two Weeks </li></ul><ul><li>SuperHappyFunHouse (2005) = New Implementations In Six Hours </li></ul>
  12. 12. What’s Different? <ul><li>West Coast Computer Faire (1977) = Huge Annual Commercial Showcase located in California. </li></ul><ul><li>BarCamp (2005) = Huge Continuous Showcase, global. </li></ul>
  13. 13. (Unimplemented) Talk Is Cheap <ul><li>Low friction launches mean lots of experimentation & iteration. </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of terrible ideas, but ... </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cheap, fast failures. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Very cost-effective exploration </li></ul></ul><ul><li>No VC required. </li></ul>
  14. 14. What If… <ul><li>You can’t IPO and make $100m? </li></ul><ul><li>You’re not going to get bought for $100m? </li></ul><ul><li>You can make $2m/year with two friends? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“Lifestyle Company” (derogatory) </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Talent Black Hole = You Win <ul><li>No free talent </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Giant Holes = Google, Intel, Yahoo, NVidia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Failure of Outsourcing </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A+ coders are not trawling for jobs. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They’re probably hired and happy. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Money != de facto ability to compete </li></ul><ul><ul><li>… so don’t freak out about funded competition </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. Why Was VC Great? <ul><li>Invest in 20 companies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>16 will flop badly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3 will do alright and make a few bucks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1 will make you a huge profit </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sucked for an entrepreneur! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Try it starting two companies, spending five years each, and you’ll probably still fail.  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>… but now you can launch 20 companies. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Launch one this weekend! (Not kidding!) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Where This Is Going <ul><li>Huge ecosystems around everything </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Calendars </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>GIS / Maps </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Text Collaboration: Email, Blogs, Wikis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Realtime: IM, SMS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social & business networking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Media: Pictures / Music / Movies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A million niches, a million companies </li></ul>
  18. 18. No Opportunity Too Small <ul><li>A $800,000 / year global market is just fine </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If no operating costs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And almost no employees. </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Enabling The Constellation <ul><li>Structured data interchange </li></ul><ul><ul><li>APIs w/XML, JSON </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>RSS, Atom, webcal </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Embeddability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Google Gadgets, Bitty Browser </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cheap Hosted Services </li></ul><ul><ul><li>GMail, Amazon S3, PBwiki, Wordpress </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Still Missing! <ul><li>Common Data Repositories </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy joins of GIS/calendar/DB data </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Obvious Multisite Authentication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>OpenID? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MS / Yahoo / Google / AOL logins? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Kerberos? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Automated API discovery & documentation </li></ul><ul><li>Seamless idea => cluster tools </li></ul>
  21. 21. Long Term Challenges <ul><li>Everything To Zero </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Operations so cheap, can be charity-supported (CCCP) or done for market (Google) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>May prove hard to compete with Open Source + free hosting. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Scalability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not all problems parallelize well </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CPU bottleneck </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Things For Geeks To Avoid <ul><li>Intellectual Masturbation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Writing your own DB / OS / language </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Overfeaturificationising Things </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not as simple as it could possibly be. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Perfectionism & Elegance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Waiting to launch until the seventh rewrite </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Lessons <ul><li>Leverage Others’ Work </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use Open Source </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use knowledge from others </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>see Brad Fitzpatrick’s amazing LiveJournal slides! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t build it yourself. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Make it sustainable </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do fun things; find out how to make one of them pay. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be cheap. Use commodity everything. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>I know OCAML rocks, but damn it, use PHP. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Release Early & Often </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Get over that perfectionist streak. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Your users know their needs better than you do. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Make Structured I/O Easy w/standards & APIs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Just do it. </li></ul></ul>
  • halcon30

    Mar. 12, 2019
  • steven_liucx

    May. 11, 2015
  • AntiFreeze

    Apr. 25, 2009

Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control, How Silicon Valley Got Its Groove Back. A completely uncalled-for talk by David Weekly for PenLUG on 11/9/06

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