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I think he is spot on.

BUT, the fact that he won't share his idea spreadsheet is very disappointing. My comment on his blog:

"While I agree completely with your thesis, this response makes the whole thing a wash in my opinion. Do you really think someone reading your blog is going to steal your idea, build a product, execute and deliver? I'd say the chances are almost non-existent.

Love the fact that you're telling people to share ideas and get feedback and be open, but loathe the fact that you won't eat your own dogfood. Saying it only applies when you show ideas to individuals is weak. But that's just my opinion."




Saying it only applies when you show ideas to individuals is weak.

The problem with showing your entire idea spreadsheet to the mob isn't that someone is going to steal one of the ideas. The problem is the signal-to-noise of the responses.

When you sit with one person, in person, and go through the list, you get to focus on one idea at a time, you both get to control the agenda, you can both react directly to each other's social signals, and you've got a rapid-fire exchange of sentences. If the exercise proves to be a waste of time for either of you, you can cut it short.

None of this applies when you post a list of N things on the net and ask for "feedback". An arbitrary number of people will respond to an arbitrary number of the things, in arbitrary order, with arbitrary levels of engagement. Most of your visitors will, at best, be drive-bys: They might type out their thoughts on one of the points, but they're unlikely to stick around for ten posts' worth of back-and-forth, unless they're already your friends. (And, if they're your friends, why not run the ideas by them in person, over drinks?) And there's a good chance that the ensuing thread will be dominated by critiques of your spelling, cheap jokes about the funniest idea on your list ("Blog posts with a 140-character limit? Don't you know how to type? lol."), or an exhaustive discussion of one of your points -- whichever one happens to be the best at generating free-form conversation, which is a metric completely unrelated to how good an idea it is.

And, of course, the responses will probably be largely context-free. You won't necessarily know if that insightful-sounding response is from a potential customer, a VC, an employee at a big company, an entrepreneur, a con artist, or the Vice President. As the original article takes pains to point out, knowing who is critiquing your idea is really helpful.

Free-format brainstorming meetings do not scale well at all, even in person. On the web they're even worse.


> BUT, the fact that he won't share his idea spreadsheet is very disappointing

I think you've fallen for the fallacy associated with "Ideas are worthless".

A lot of people assume that means "share it with everyone" - which is definitely not what this article is suggesting.

Share it with people you know, people you respect, people who you think will give input - but share it personally

If you are going to attempt to execute an idea throwing it onto HN (for example) does potentially devalue you it for you. The amount of extra input is potentially useful (though I doubt by much) but the chance of it being implemented by another shoots right up too :)

(of course; if you dont plan to execute now, or dont see yourself executing then sharing publicly is a good idea)


Fair point, but I dont think ideas are worthless at all. Given that he is not building startups to execute on these ideas (and alludes he probably won't be in the future), I thought it would make his case much more compelling if he did share. Maybe a few ideas... or just the headline idea without the detail.

I got into a bit of back-and-forth with him on the blog, but I did agree with his general thesis. FWIW, I think throwing out an idea on HN is not a terrible idea. The feedback and useful suggestions probably outweigh the risk, especially if you are already working on building the business (i.e. past the 'idea' stage).


FWIW, I think throwing out an idea on HN is not a terrible idea. The feedback and useful suggestions probably outweigh the risk, especially if you are already working on building the business (i.e. past the 'idea' stage).

I suspect it's a case of "each one on it's own merits". Some ideas would see benefit in being aired publicly. Others less so.

If you dont have people you chat to one-to-one (or in small groups) about your ideas then I can definitely see the benefit, yes.


I like to think of an idea as a seed or germ of the real idea. It's from the most important part - the founders, their execution, market & product positioning are all much more important, but this also doesn't mean that every idea is a good one. I think that a really great founding team will eventually pivot and morph an initially not-so-great idea into something decent and viable, but really great startups must also come from pretty good initial ideas, or at least the initial idea has to quickly lead to a relatively good idea.




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