I’m really, truly sorry I don’t have a startup idea
It’s hard not to feel like a second-class citizen in Silicon Valley. In a world where everyone seemingly has a startup, an idea for a startup, or an idea for an idea for a startup (this latter group being the largest contingent), I am boringly uninspired. 95% of my mental energy goes into my job, and the other 5% is reserved for Scrabble matches.
The entrepreneur worship in the Valley is extreme – although you could argue that a large portion of it is self-worship. For every brilliant and successful entrepreneur, there are hundreds (thousands?) planning to build a “Netflix for cats.” Or worse, they are entrepreneurs in search of an idea. Um, order of operations??
I don’t mean to sound so frickin curmudgeonly. The audacious, pursue-crazy-ideas-against-all-odds mentality is a big part of why I love living and working in the tech community. I guess I’m just tired of feigning engrossment in the composition of an oh-so urgent tweet whenever conversation turns to everyone’s world changing ideas. Market demand and business models be damned. Gah, curmudgeon!
But in the past 24 hours, I’ve read two (totally unrelated) posts that make me feel much, much better about my lacking entrepreneurial spirit.
The first, The Secret Guild of Silicon Valley, shines a light on perhaps the least visible but most essential Valley contingent. Or as the author puts it, “They are part of a nomadic band of software tradesmen, who have mentored one another over the last four decades in Silicon Valley, and they have quietly, steadily built the infrastructure behind the world’s most successful companies.”
And then this quip from Dustin Moskovitz at last night’s PandoMonthly interview, “The 100th engineer at Facebook did way better than the vast majority of entrepreneurs in the Valley.” And they’ve also “had more impact.”
I think impact is the most important point. There are a multitude of companies in the Valley serving millions or tens of millions of users each, with employee counts in the hundreds (or in Instagram’s crazy case, the teens). That’s a pretty powerful ratio.
Which isn’t to say that I would never ever do the startup thing. If I had a brilliant, all-consuming idea, I like to think I’d go for it. (And yes, I know I’m a PR chick with no programming skills, but hey, a girl can dream.)
But in the meantime, I’m going to forgive myself for being content helping to build a company that I fiercely believe in, but had no part in starting.
And maybe I’ll compile an arsenal of really, really horrid company ideas to deliver deadpan the next time peeps want to talk startups at a dive bar.