We're so successful because we're smarter than everyone else.
We learned everything we needed to know in college.
Our technology was so good, it was only a matter of time before everyone found us.
Most of our unit tests were successful on the first run.
We were usually able to knock off at 5 p.m.
Customer service issues went pretty much as we expected.
We always knew better than our customers. Eventually, they realized that.
We always had plenty of time to spend with our family and friends.
We outsourced all of the technical work.
I'm so glad I spent so much time on Hacker News.
> We always had plenty of time to spend with our family and
> We always knew better than our customers. Eventually,
> they realized that.
Doesn't "not having plenty of time to spend with our family and friends" follows directly from not winding up at 5?
Regardless of what you consider a failure, the hard fact is most of the businesses demand time - a lot of time. And there are only so many hours in a day. For the starting days, putting up south of 12 hours is common, and that takes a toll on the time you would have spent with your near and dear ones.
 - http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2747106
 - http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2819549
Pretty sure I've read quotes from Steve Jobs that follow that line of thinking actually.
The Steve Jobs / Apple approach is more the exception that proves the rule, and even then, they've had their Newton moments too. What that proves is that with a successful enough company you can have a few failures. When you've only got the one product, you can't afford the luxury of your own Newton.
What a good company does is never listen to only a single customer. What a good company does is listen to all customers and take that knowledge and solve the over arcing problem. Each individual customer is likely only seeing part of the problem and thus only asking for partial solutions. The problem is that they simply do not have the visibility to know the entire problem, and that's where a good 3rd party business comes into play.
also apple would have forwarded the osx success a couple years if the acquired beos instead of next. so that was steves luck acting again
Because it was falling apart without him and that's the company he really wanted to run?
Think what you will about Steve Jobs but the idea that he's some hack who's milked an incredible streak of good luck is not going to win many people over.
apple was a success because of woz. Jobs was good at milking it, that i will give him.
jobs wasted all his apple-money on next.
Pixar was more proof that even he never thought apple would be the hit it is today. i don't think they had a single mac there until 5yrs ago.
The facts don't align with that theory. Steve Jobs left Apple in 1985. Toy Story was released in 1995. There wasn't any plausible path for Steve to return to Apple until 1996.
Aside from the still-continuing claims of Be adherents and their Haiku descendants, BeOS was so very much Nothing Special and I find it highly unlikely the Magic BeOS Fairy Powder would have materially improved OS X.
it had everything that os8 lacked, and that later was added on osx only. except objectivec... but there were even compilers for that later on.
but thats not even my point. to downvote me above, first answer: how many clients next had?
Anyone who laments the outcome of the Be/NeXT decision clearly knows little about just how much rock solid foundation came along with NeXT -- most notably the development tools and developer ecosystem.
The Mac ecosystem has experienced a consumer renaissance through iDevices/iOS, but also a geek renaissance through Mac OS X's UNIX underpinnings.
Classic Mac OS was derided as a toy (and in many technical respects it was), and BeOS would have done nothing long term to shed the Mac's toy image. Today, few people call OS X a toy.
Also, BeOS had an Xwindow port months after it's death. OSX had it when?
IOS is a completely different beast. I don't even imagine why you are mentioning this. But the beos hybrid kernel would be good for that as well. heck it was even bought by palm for that purpose. sadly politics never moved it. even Next took a lot of time to be absorbed in apple ...and they had the ceo at their side.
About the tech that matter... there was nothing super new about objective C. ever heard of smalltalk? anyways, GNU implemented all that 3 years after NEXT, and they were not even being paid. Meanwhile Next were licensing PS from adobe for the interface just like SGI was doing for what? 10 years?
No matter how many buttons had your rock solid development tools. it was just like programming in VB. and if you wanted to do anything just a little different, you had to deal with awful apis and post script. heck, there's one layer of hell with the same name.
now, on the other hand, I invite you to read the BeOS book that is now opensourced... from oreilley if i'm not mistaken. Even the OS being dead now, it's the best read if you ever want to learn anything about elegant APIs design.
...i know all that is pointless... http://xkcd.com/386/#Duty_Calls ...but i just can't stand to see apple taking any underserved merit for being cool
Maybe for you. However Mac OS X does manage them well for you, which means that you can set up limited access and guest accounts on your computer without worrying about someone fucking it up or looking at your shit.
> IOS is a completely different beast. I don't even imagine why you are mentioning this.
I mentioned it because the products sparked a revival of the Apple brand in consumer's minds. But yeah, now you mention it, the technology did do a great job of scaling down to the phone. BeOS might have been fine too, but hey, Palm chose a Linux kernel instead.
We're discussing could-have-beens, which is pointless.
> there was nothing super new about objective C. ever heard of smalltalk?
With that line of argument, there's been nothing new in computer languages for thirty years.
I'm sure you love your BeBox and spend your life porting stuff like Firefox to Haiku, but as cool as BeOS was on the surface, the world has past it by. Stop lamenting what could have been, there's no interesting arguments to be had there.
> i just can't stand to see apple taking any underserved merit
Whereas giving too much credit to experimental failed projects like BeOS isn't?
(I don't recall the details, but there was little to no printer support; certainly nothing comparable to classic MacOS. For Apple's core market at the time, that was the kiss of death.)
After they noticed they had no money for the bebox they just pampered the OS for a sale. that's the main reason it looks so much like os7... or 8. it was being tweaked for an apple purchase.
printing was just a matter of paying the rights for the 'standards', again, they were steps before that point.
Also, linux didn't have decent print for the same reason. nobody paid pantone et al for color stuff licenses. heck, gimp didn't have CMKY until... does it have already? honestly, i gave up following it up.
Any sane company will tell you feedback is important, what can differ is where the feedback comes from, how it's interpreted, and whether customers have as much knowledge of what is or isn't possible/economical as the people at the company.
It's also important to note that companies like Apple are always trying new things, building strange prototypes, etc.. If a customer screams for Widget X, a company might try building a Widget X prototype, and discover it doesn't work so well in practice.
It's a lesson I learned early on in my developer career: when customers ask for Widget X, it's often a symptom of an underlying problem that customers are trying to solve. Your role as a product developer is to understand the customer's underlying problem.
Discover what the problem is, and you might discover that they don't need a Widget X; maybe they need a Feature X or a Gadget X. Maybe it reveals holes in your training processes. Maybe they just revealed a seemingly trivial bug with existing stuff. Or maybe you realise you never understood why clients ever used your product until now.
...ok, not a constructive reply other than: laughter generates beneficial chemicals in the brain and it's good to be good to others...thanks! carry on. :)
Hence, CTRL + W.
Actually I am pretty sure I heard/read that a couple of times (or equivalent, not completely busting their asses).
"We always knew better than our customers. Eventually, they realized that."
That's what 37Signals always preaches.
"May I mambo dogface on the banana patch?"
"My hovercraft is full of eels"
"Colorless green ideas sleep furiously"
It turns out that this - "things I've never heard class of person X say" rhetorical device is a fine way to lend credence to what would otherwise be a simple collection of one-line assertions about how to do startups.
Not saying that I agree or disagree with many of the sentiments here, just that this is a very back-door way of adding authority to a bunch of statements. In the case of Jason Cohen, I'd pay attention if he just made the statements flat based on his own experience.
So? What's wrong with rhetorical devices? You can't win people over with logic alone. Believe me, I've tried.
Are all the entrepreneurs you've talked with the kind of people who made something like Wufoo or HARO? Because if you were trying to do a rollup or start a wireless company then I think having an MBA would make a pretty big difference.
There are plenty of folks out there who benefit from the business training and fundamentals an MBA curriculum provides. Obviously there are just as many people who don't need MBAs, or who succeeded without the degree. That's cool. Different strokes for different folks. Let's stop thinking in such Manichean terms about the degree.
That is why the "mindless bashing" is so important. It is a defence mechanism. It is vitally important that we remember from our past mistakes and codifying that knowledge into stereotypes is a great way of making sure that knowledge sticks around an is remembered.
Besides, I don't think many MBAs are losing sleep over a few techies on HN thinking that they're full of shit.
When presented with the numerous and obvious counter-examples to "MBA's are full of shit", they clam up and resort to "yeah, but they're assholes, immoral, and basically stole their way to the top".
If you can't code, you're not smart. And if you're not smart, how are you more successful than me? (Success is derived from smarts, right? Dammit, I'm SMART.) Therefore you must be a cheating douche bag. And man, there are a lot of you cheating douche bags.
No, the problem is not the MBA. It is the refusal of some to accept a broader world view in which different people can do great things despite vastly varying approaches and skills.
I really don't agree. I have/had nothing against business people (they always threw way better parties in college after all ;).
Similarly, MBAs are great at running businesses. The trouble arises when we do what we did in the 90s and let them drive the businesses, make the businesses, that sort of thing.
The issue can be summed up I think as MBAs squeezing out high status technologists (http://www.codebelay.com/blog/2011/08/14/low-status-and-high...). When that happens, the 90s happen. To fight this perceived threat, we have negative stereotypes that keep people on their toes. They are essentially antibody memes.
Incorrect. An MBA is only proven to be great at one thing. Getting a Masters in Business degree.
Totally fair, but then, I chose the descriptor "mindless" for a good reason. I used it to distinguish a certain type (a subset, if you will) of bashing, i.e., the senseless kind. Not all bashing is senseless, but a lot of it is.
There is certainly justified bashing, of the "Some schmucky MBA I've never met just emailed me and asked me to code his Facebook-meets-Amazon-meets-Holodeck project for $1000" variety. That kind of bashing makes sense.
But the carpet-bashing of all MBAs, or of the MBA-qua-MBA, has perhaps grown a little stale.
(Did I really just use the phrase "carpet-bashing"?)
How would an MBA make a pretty big difference for a wireless company?
I meet and advise many entrepreneurs and most of the time they fall into common traps stemming from lack of understanding of market dynamics, how companies make decisions, what companies worry about, what matters, etc. A common example: thinking about cost and not value when it comes to selling a(n enterprise) product. Or forgetting about risk management for their new cloud-based solution.
For tech startups, there is no question that everyone on the early team needs to understand, live, and breathe technology. A lot of folks are attracted to the Facebook-size wealth generation (including MBAs) and end up destroying value because they don't understand technology.
Full disclosure: I have an MBA. I also have been programming since I was 9 and have built and sold two companies. I fully believe that a lot of MBAs don't add value when it comes to startups in particular (see Steve Blank's recent posts explaining why) and many times in mature companies as well. Of course, that is true for people in general - i.e. there are many engineers, designers, marketing folks, etc. who are just not very good at their jobs. It all comes down to looking for the exceptional gems!
Most people with MBA aren't like you and thus won't reap the benefits of perspective.
The doors that open up are numerous - like being able to credibly get in front of the right private equity firm interested in doing a wireless roll-up.
There's no magic here. It's just work and education.
It speaks nothing of whether one become better at doing business what so ever.
I have worked with my share of MBAs they are as diverse as any other group but none of them owe it to their MBA.
Your engineering degree help you become better at engineering because you can more or less predict the outcome of how things behave. The theories are seldomly proven wrong.
If the matter you control in engineering were made of "business matter" life would be much more dangerous than it already is. Humans don't follow the laws of physics the same way.
You seem to be confusing doing good inside larger organizations with being good at business. There is little to no correlation.
Being good at business is more like being good at music. Education is no guarantee for success.
Feel free to prove me wrong.
There is real, honest value in bringing a bunch of smart people from a wide range of backgrounds together for two years to study the way people behave while engaging in commerce. That the nature of business is poorly described by physical laws makes it no less worthy of study. There are good and bad ways to do accounting, finance, operations - even marketing. Why not learn about it? And if you do learn about it, how can that be a bad thing?
Education is about learning how to think. My engineering profs and peers taught me a lot about one way to approach problems. My business school professors and peers taught me an equally useful, and almost completely orthogonal outlook on life.
They are necessary yes, so is cleaning, your systemadministration etc.
You are not learning how to run a business successfully by learning that.
But the big difference is that to be good at business you have to do business. You can't look it up in a book. With engineering your more or less can.
So unless you are a hired gun working inside a proven industry for a company the MBA is pretty much worthless. The engineer on the other hand seldom is.
Probably more so than the cleaning of the office (which is handled by the building).
Maybe we are an outlier though.
When you deal with business you deal with humans not immaterial matter.
That's thee difference here. And for that no amount of education is going to make you more successful. Again feel free to prove me wrong.
That doesn't make any sense at all. For something completely unproven, corporate finance doesn't even come into picture. I don't know how your wireless example relate to this, since wireless isn't completely unproven - more like "it works
and we have a lot of base to build onto.
Let's say we are talking about self-driving cars, as an example of something completely unproven which is well served by millions of dollars. Corporate finance and strategy aren't going to drive that car for sure.
The MBA is one indication that a person is responsible handling* vast sums of money. Having some actual experience handling vast sums of money is even better. Without that experience though, the MBA is the next best thing.
* By responsible handling of money, I mean things like having made concious decisions about the debt structure of the business, hedging risks (eg. use of forward contracts to hedge currency risks), care between capital and revenue expenditure for tax purposes. To say nothing of the other areas of the MBA to understand how the different functions of the business work together. And if you're building a large business you're going to have different functions of the business so folks feel more comfortable knowing that the guy in charge knows about these different functions and how they operate.
So they don't look at whether I have a sound business but whether I have an MBA when they are in their 60s and 70s???
Care to give some examples?
Are you really arguing what I think you are arguing?
Do people actually come straight out of an MBA program and start a company that requires hundreds of millions of dollars in funding?
I feel I would be skeptical of anyone who wasn't already sitting around a kitchen table with hackers at some point in their life and, more importantly, have shown they have some ability to run a successful business that didn't require the massive funding.
- I don't need to worry about the product. I hired someone for that.
- Hiring is for HR.
- I will be spending August on an island in the South Pacific.
- It is ok to miss payroll.
- Our value add to the customer-centric value chain is based on world class process excellence principles.
- That's not my job.
I've seen worse...an agreeing head nod that he'll do something...then months of passive aggressive cat and mouse games to get it out of him...only to find it's simply not been done.
So don't obsess over it, but be sure you have competent advisers including an attorney who can help you make the right choice in such matters.
Ask a farmer in 1900 what he wanted, he would have said "A stronger horse that eats less oats". Never would he have said "a tractor".
We were an overnight success.
After I found my great co-founder(s) we had never had to bother with other employees.
Must be something more to it than a list of Bad Words (tm).