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Silicon Valley != The Internet (The CEO of Yammer says the darndest things) (diegobasch.com)
64 points by diego on Aug 21, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 23 comments

Back around 1982, I went to a conference where Fred Gibbons of Software Publishing Corporation stood up and said, "It's too late to start a new software company."

I was shocked, but had to admit he was right. Who could possibly compete with such titans of the industry as Software Publishing, Lotus, and VisiCorp?

I remember Mitch Kapor saying the same thing after IBM bought Lotus.

As each new market is locked up, new markets emerge. This is what's fascinating about technology.

Fashion isn't changing the same way. People are still wearing shirts. They don't need smaller shirts for some new appendage they didn't have six months ago. In technology this happens all the time.

Now you need a spreadsheet for your phone but Excel is a bit too clumsy? There's a whole new opportunity.

I think he's just trying to explain why he doesn't think he has another Yammer in him. Cognitive Dissonance explains all.

Totally agree here. The surprising part is his pessimism after he was successful. He had his chance and now he's saying there's nothing left for anyone to do? Seems like maybe he's depressed and needs to start over.

While I don't fully subscribe to the "you have to be a psychologist to indulge in psychodynamic theory", I do tend to agree with you in this instance.

It's unlikely he is generally that myopic, and more plausible that an emotional reaction is occurring.

The subconscious can have a profound effect on decision making.

Human wants are a bottomless pit. Even if we automate every single industry, people will still want something else. There is always an angle.

The Red Queen Syndrome says that as problems are solved, further problems reveal themselves.

Hell you don't even need an angle, every few years you'll see the same angle come back around.

Look at imgur, which is really a better version of the original photobucket, tinypic, whatever came before that.

I have no doubt we'll see instagram #2 in a couple of years.

So this explains why even though we've had so much technical innovation in past 40 years, work hours have not decreased dramatically? Humans are such assholes

They haven't changed for the most productive people. They have certainly been reduced for unskilled labor.

I think there are some major logical flaws in what you are saying.

1 - 'The most productive people' is a weak description of anything. Producing what? Money? If so, please just say 'the highest earners'. If not, please remember that some 'unskilled labourers' could be 'the most productive people' in their own fields (eg. construction). Some earn a lot of money too...

2 - Most 'unskilled labour' now happens in Asia. Work hours have probably increased rather than decreased as compared to 40 years ago (in the factories of the West, where at the time strong unionism led to better conditions).

But the returns of utility and money on satisfying those wants diminish.

ha! This is the most brilliant and inspirational thing I have ever read on Hacker News. I'm printing your gem of a quote out and plastering it above my computer!

Relevant xkcd: http://www.xkcd.com/1095/

I do feel there's a legit subtext here: we're going to see a ton of startups operating at a micro level. The culture, and daresay the economy, of SV that is based on big dreams and big VC may not always have enough wind behind it. I don't think that time has come, but I don't believe that the winners will always come out of SV, but we'll see more or more SaaS apps built by 1 or 2 people in Kansas or the Ukraine that generate a nice $200-300K revenue stream.

I agree. Think we're going to see more and more winners among lean, bootstrapped developers with good profitable niche ideas, esp as this recession continues.

Sacks makes solid arguments though, as it relates to web startups. Trying to make it as the next big thing among venture-backed internet startups is becoming increasingly high-risk and extremely saturated, startup activity in non-internet tech sectors will probably be more interesting and rewarding over the coming years.

Exactly. Plus there are a lot of companies that will get to that level, then grow slowly but profitably over the next 10 years. Aweber was started by one guy in his basement right around the time the dot-com bubble peaked. He was up against competitors that had raised tens of millions and a few were already public. (I sold my company to one of them.)

Those competitors are all gone now and Aweber is basically a giant ATM for the founder.

Sack's comments really did surprise me when I realized he was serious - I thought it was a joke the first time I read it, and laughed. There's just so much inefficiency and scale in the world left, who could take it seriously?

There was big firm that made a similar bet on the internet (KPCB), and it ended up costing them quite a bit - in addition to everyone chuckling a bit whenever someone mentions "the (x) is dead!".

I think the question is, what does he mean by "silicon valley as we know it"?

I agree with the article, but I wonder whether it'll mostly happen in the Valley, in the way that internet companies very much mostly happened in the Valley. Focusing so much on web web web web technology might have driven the non-web engineers of many trades away from the Valley, to other places in the world. Wouldn't these places be better equipped now to be the new "Silicon Valley of <field>"?

A facebook copy-cat does come out in weird fashion, fascinating :-)

Facebook has an enormous empire, but like so many physical empires and virtual ones before it, size is not always an asset. Facebook was built on the ashes of MySpace which grew in the fertile remains of Geocities.

I can't wait until something takes root in the post-apocalyptic wasteland that is Facebook's overly gentrified, douchebag-riddled internet experience.

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