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From a Machiavellian perspective, Google competes in hundreds of market niches with competitors constantly nipping at its heels. It certainly doesn't want more competition. Brin doesn't need a 5 man startup hurting Google, so he's politically motivated to give advice that benefits him best. That Kansas startup with zero dollars isn't a threat to Google, and makes for a cheap acquisition if they do develop something interesting or threatening. It certainly is a threat when its backed by SV money, can scale quickly, and isn't available to buy for peanuts.

I've always been skeptical of the whole "advice from billionaires" format. Brin isn't motivated to help startups the same way Warren Buffet isn't giving away hot stock tips or how Gates never gave the FOSS community an easy way to reverse-engineer the doc format. These people know how their bread gets buttered. Or simply have internalized protectionist attitudes and give away just enough to not be dangerous to themselves.

edit: I'm not necessarily projecting malice, but there are other reasons why "advice from billionares" is kinda a bullshit format. Brin may be out of touch or, if you read the source of the article, made an off-hand comment he probably doesn't worry about all night and is blown out of proportion by the 'give us the latest hot investing tip' crowd.




> I've always been skeptical of the whole "advice from billionaires" format.

Me too. But it's not like it's unfounded advice. The things you need to start a company (time, knowledge, morale) are all significantly more expensive, and therefor less accessible, in SV.


Clearly investors are biased to having someone nearby. Even HN forces you to temporarily move to SV. How do you overcome this bias in Kansas especially when your competitors are in SV and chatting up people and making connections?

The problem with "how I got successful" advice is, even when its honest, is fairly dependent on that one person's experience. Most success has more to do with getting lucky or being at the right place at the right time, than purely merit. That Kansas startup may have a lot of merit, but a less meritorious startup actively "working the room" in SV will have a strong advantage.

I suspect you'd learn more from the guy who had five failed startups in a row than the guy who hit a homerun on his first time to bat. Again, the "advice from billionaires" format is really a bizarre thing. Its the closest thing secular society has to the Delphi oracle and from what I can tell is usually borderline dishonest or just a lot of pleasantries/PR for said billionaire. It does get ad impressions though, so I imagine this is why we keep seeing this type of format over and over again.

Maybe Brin's advice made sense in the 90s but is questionable today. Or maybe he's woefully out of touch. Or maybe he's being dishonest. Or maybe its just a throwaway comment that he never really thought about too strongly and is being sold by the tech press as "The New Hot Tech Tip!" Unfortunately, its impossible to tell.


>Even HN forces you to temporarily move to SV

I think you mean YC here :)


> The things you need to start a company (time, knowledge, morale) are all significantly more expensive, and therefor less accessible, in SV

It's always been more expensive in Silicon Valley.

I would agree that Silicon Valley is probably not a good place to start a low-margin business.

Market participants have chosen to start and grow tech businesses in Silicon Valley, so economic opportunity must exist despite seemingly high costs.


Could it be that now that Google is no longer able to retain staff through a no-poach collusion, its CEO is instead trying to discourage other businesses from setting up shop in a place where they might be able to hire developers away?

That's cynical, but I'd say we have the right to be somewhat cynical after reading those emails.


Excellent point. Another nail in the coffin for the "altruistic billionaire." Those poaching emails are one of the rare behind-the-scenes glimpses we get of the world that people like Jobs and Brin live in.

I would not be surprised if poaching concerns are foremost for the higher ups at these giant tech companies.


A five-man startup that competes with Google can be very simply mitigated by Google, though.

There is an advantage for a billionaire to help startups get better - someday they can acquire the talent, product, etc. Remember that acquisition is a form of recruitment, too.


>Remember that acquisition is a form of recruitment, too.

But for whom? That startup is just as likely picked up by Microsoft, Facebook, or Apple than Google.


Sure but that's true whether they're in Kansas or the Valley.




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