His biggest strength is he's an unbelievable salesman. He can talk pixie dust and make you want to sign on to his vision.
I believe the ability to sell your vision is the most important skill for an entrepreneur (which is too bad for me, cause I'm a coder and I suck at this skill).
You can't flip-flop more than that. I can't wait until Facebook incorporates their new ideas into the product and puts them out of business - assuming that this new business actually exists in the first place.
Then of course to turn around and say that Facebook is the answer to all things is pushing the irony very far…
I don't think there's any other way to read that.
What that seems to mean is that if you:
* have a persona that at least superficially seems driven, ambitious, likely to succeed, and
* you tell a convincing story about a market that might experience explosive growth, and
* you have any kind of track record of any sort to make it hard to write you off as a total bozo, and
* you have some sales skill, so you can manage the pitch process and create pressure to VC firms, then
you're probably fundable even if you think testing means "practicing instead of really playing".
These kinds of pitches seem very different from the kinds of things people write in Show-HN: postings. In particular, these pitches aren't meant to be reasonable.
This is way more of a response than you were looking for; sorry, I just had to get this out, since all I can think of when I read about Color is how good an illustration it is of VC cliches.
I had this happen to me first hand, more than once. When raising money ~5 years ago a high profile VC stopped replying to my emails. Around 2 years later when I was associated with a high-profile project he emailed me out of the blue and asked me up to lunch. As we sat down with coffee, I said to him 'I haven't talked to you in a while, this whole time I thought you thought that I suck'. He laughed and said 'ye we decided not to invest in that'.. urgh. I found it funny and we talked about VCs not saying no for the first 10 minutes.
I continued to make light of it and at the end of that meeting after talking about a number of projects, I said 'I will take 7 days of no email as a no'.
Or he could be saying that if you can come up with a move clever way of investing that avoids projects like these you may be able to be a better VC firm than the ones that currently exist.
Or maybe something else.
Find someone who has done more than one highly impressive thing, prefereably in approximately the same line, who seems high energy and sociable. If they have anything resembling sales experience that's a big plus. One of the best hunting grounds will be in and around universities, as they're full of people with not much money and confidence that's higher than is justified, and some of them will be much more impressive than their age mates. Find one.
Harvest startup ideas by say, looking at previous Show HN posts, or doing a Madlib generator on the Crunchbase DB for X of Y, and look for something that you can build a good story about explosive growth around, or have what you think is a good idea already.
Sell your ambitious young go-getter on your idea, or on you, somehow, and start pitching VCs with your incredible story of wild growth and fantastic riches. Meanwhile iterate on your idea. Pivot if it looks like a good idea, and hope and pray for growth while pitching VCs all the freaking time.
Basically, have an idea that could conceivably grow explosively and have a business guy with previous record of Impressiveness, capacity to Believe in your Great Idea, and the ability to Sell Stuff, including your Awesome Idea.
If you are that guy, and you can program your own mockup and iterate you might be able to get into YC as a single founder.
I wasn't really joking at all with my description. I mean there are almost certainly groups that fit that description perfectly among YC alumni.
Having a $850M exit on your resume makes you look pretty good when you're pitching an otherwise crazy idea.
The only thing I would add is the fact that you have to know all the players and all the buzz and buzz words.
You don't want to say "no I don't know who Fred Wilson is or who Mike Arrington or PG is etc. Or you're not up on what's going on in the startup community. (Which could happen with someone who has a killer track record from a different industry.) In other words you know the lay of the land.
I might suggest cough having the players know you. There's a famous line in Chicago politics: "Don't be sent by nobody" (An apocryphal applicant, on asking for a job at a local politician's office, was asked "Who sent you?" "Nobody." "Kid, one piece of advice: don't be sent by nobody.")
"There is no one in the world who I won't outlast. There's no way. There's no way. There's no way."
This description sort of reminded me of the way Sean Parker was portrayed in 'The Social Network'. Arrogant, irritating and fairly useless.
The laughing stock is not Bill Nguyen, its the VC's that gave him the money. If you walk in a room and say Color and they laugh, they should really be embarrassed. How many of these same people wanted to get in on this deal before it launched? The really funny thing is that there will be someone else that comes in with a great deck and grand illusions of how they will be the next Facebook, the VC's will pump this person with money too.
If there's one person in the Valley who you can ask difficult questions, it's Bill Nguyen. Instead, the author asks him about whether his wife likes the house on Maui.
A pop artists sells music, a company sells a product or a service. I'm not predicating my use of facebook based on whether or not Mark Zuckerberg did pot in college or got blowjobs from his secretaries.
So when you interview someone who isn't selling themselves, you don't have the freedom to ask those kinds of questions. Unless maybe you don't that person to ever grant you or your magazine an interview ever again.
Fast Company has always been breathless and brainless. They always present "business" in such a way to make it seem like all you need to be a rich, successful, famous, sexy entrepreneur is "a great idea" and maybe some fun personality traits.
They aren't in the business of reporting, they're in the business of titillating, teasing, and making their reader think "that could be me!" - exactly, in other words, the stuff I've dubbed entreporn:
"I've got a pizza here with extra sausage." "Ohhhh, we lost our purses, however can we pay?" -- I DELIVER PIZZAS… IT COULD BE ME!
Fast Company and Inc. are both owned by the same firm, and they try to portray a more humanistic view of business, ie. social capitalism, the belief that entrepreneurs can one day solve all of the ills in the world. Its a very uplifting philosophy, and I for one find it encouraging.
I've never heard of the term entreporn though, if you coined it then congrats! I like the term, and maybe it is apt. Maybe that's precisely what someone is curious but hesitant about entrepreneurialism needs.
People just need to understand what they're reading, and why they shouldn't place their trust in its realism. What I see here on HN all the time is a refusal to question the motives or background of the speaker/writer/what-have-you. It's considered ad hominem, a fallacy. But it's not. It's just good thinking.
Political journalists encounter the same thing, but their success is less dependent on this availability - and people are buying their content for that criticism, not puff pieces.
Also there is the question of talent - don't you think a more diligent reporter would rather be working for a publication/in a subject area with more prestige?
I haven't visited the site since.
I have a theory that conflicts with his thinking. If an app connects people it will trump an app that requires people to physically connect themselves. My test for this is "does this app work for users coming from a rural setting?". Facebook works amazingly well because it connects people. Color works horribly. Your app can be profitable and cool not working in a rural area, but it won't be a Facebook.
There is so much money sloshing around, and people are so scared to miss a deal that they're willing to take all the risk up front. It's crazy, and doesn't work like that in any other industry I can think off..
And many other industries work this way. Biotech and oil & gas come to mind. In fact, the tax laws around carried interest were enacted to encourage oil & gas exploration.
Throwing money blindly and seeing what sticks doesn't seem to be the YC modus operandi. It is interesting to see the number of YC alumni who join other YC startups, or do a second start-up, with similar teams and a new idea.
I would hope to measure up to the YC standard, and get myself and my ideas accepted, when the timing is right.
B) Using other people's money is always a lesser risk.
C) Raising big money = big PR ("social proof").
And of course the mafia always needs to be cut into any good deal and requires a "taste" and to dip their beak.
My psych major friend reads it and goes "yup that's a checklist for psychopathic behavior. Don't believe me?" then he links me the wiki:
VERY interesting if you read the wiki on psychopathy and re-read the Bill Nguyen article.
I'll also be careful to state I'm not trying to say anything here - behavior is highly contextual after all. Take for example a professional fighter who can be a really nice guy, loving family man and friend yet flip a switch when the bell rings. You just can't say whether this man is violent or not - his behavior is contextual.
For all his negative qualities pointed out, at least this man is thinking something freaking different than a freaking share button with a varied alias. Color didn't go hit, but its far better than 90% of photo sharing apps out there. It at least does something different.
What these guys are selling is a photo app, what these guys are doing is that they are toying around with possibilities in sensing, VR and localization on mobile. Could very well be huge.
Here is a guy who thrives on persuading people. I think the average founder could always use a little more of the same skillset.
I'm reading the Isaacson book, and he reminds me of Steve Jobs. Everything is black and white, everyone is either a genius or a shithead.
And Bill Nguyen makes the manic Zuck portrayal in The Social Network appear shy and retiring by comparison. I'd love to meet him.
That's what I thought.
IBM didn't survive the PC, none of the PC guys survived the web, and I don't think any of the web guys will survive the post-PC world
So he didn't say post-PC devices won't access the web (and actually, neither did I) but that web apps today will not survive. That was the point of my question.
I agree with you, and disagree with all of the quoted statement. IBM did survive the PC even if they got out of the PC business. It's not clear if the "PC guys" are PC makers or those who make software for PCs, but either way they have indeed survived. Especially if you include the Mac ecosystem. And "web guys" will certainly survive the post-PC world. There will be adjustments and adaptations to new environments but great folks at Mozilla and other forward thinkers are ensuring that the web will survive and become a good platform for apps.
As is always the case few things ever kill the old technology, they simply provide another way to do things. Native apps are not going away on any platform, and web apps will only get better in the future as the web becomes a better platform for making them. The browser will continue to be one of the most important native apps.
But I fail to see how this relates to what I said.
I can still browse the web on my mobile device/tablet.
The web is very much not in danger of being replaced by native "post-pc" device apps.
"IBM didn't survive the PC, none of the PC guys survived
the web, and I don't think any of the web guys will
survive the post-PC world,"
I doubt he's saying "Yeah a bunch of companies are going to fail at this, including Color, but hey throw cash at us anyway". That doesn't make for a good sell at all.