Why? The only difference was that white flight had a quantifiable cost barrier preventing minorities from leaving decaying inner cities as well. She's saying that this is disturbing because it's still happening, even without that financial barrier.
What if I reject the premise? I've yet to see a compelling argument as to why this type of self-selection is truly harmful. Why is it a problem if folks of similar culture choose to utilize the same tools? This idea that we should all live in close exposure to diverse opinion is nice, but goes against my basic instinct. I don't want to spend my time defending my cultural choices to folks who disagree. I don't need my life to look like an internet message board.
Congrats. GaTech is a great school with really smart students. But what's most important is what YOU do at GT. I hope you will take full advantage of this great opportunity, enjoy learning, and keep an open mind and an open heart. Don't worry about whether or not others think you are "cool." Have the confidence to love yourself and to be a beacon of loving-kindness toward others. Congrats!
I'm one of the Shotput Ventures partners, and I'm looking forward to a great first "class" in Atlanta. We've got an interesting group of partners, with recent business hits in software and web svcs, complementary skills and backgrounds, and good networks. Check out our partners. I think we'll be excellent mentors for our hacker teams, primarily because we love what we're doing and want to help young hackers to build stuff people want and to dare greatly. We appreciate all that YC has done to innovate and evangelize the business model. I'm an especially huge fan of pg's inspirational writing and simple writing style. There are plenty of talented and determined hackers out there who need our mentoring and connections, and it's going to be a ton of fun working with them.
A slight criticism, looking at your application: asking me to fill out a PDF resume for a founding team is irritating and time-consuming. Is there anything that a PDF form can give you that you don't get from having applicants fill out relevant information into a text box? Drafting a PDF means that now I've got to spend time making my typography look pretty, getting things organized in a nice way, and generally spending more time on presentation than I'm putting into just conveying information.
One of the things I loved about the YC application was that it didn't require external files - excepting the Posterous video, which is a supersimple email-and-receive-link system.
I am a former patent lawyer (EE), and more recently an entrepreneur who has founded and sold s/w businesses for large sums. If I were you I would forget about patenting your idea and focus on building something people want. Getting a s/w patent will take you about 4 years and probably cost you $20K-$60k to prepare, file, and argue to issuance. I'd forget about it, and focus on solving big problems that real people have.
I also tend to think of patents as a necessary evil...a defensive measure in a world gone crazy. I've secured a few BUSINESS METHOD patents where software is a large part of the mechanism, but I've never tried to secure a patent solely based on software.
TIME: The USPTO has an expedited examination service if you qualify. Otherwise, you may be looking at 4-6 years. If your claim is very complicated or is disputed it can take much longer. I just read an article about a company that got their patent approved after 18 years! The USPTO is supposedly changing some of their processes, which will theoretically speed up the ordeal a bit.
COSTS: wayt's cost estimate is more accurate than most. Most patents cost much more than people initially budget. I've spent as much as $225K getting a patent...and I've fortunately never had to defend one from a major company, which could skyrocket your costs into the millions.
Eusman's suggestion about getting a provisional patent is a good one if you think your startup will be on firmer financial footing within the year. You should note that you have to have not only implemented your software etc., but you have to have overcome any objections from the USPTO or disputes/counterclaims from others before the year is up. A surprisingly small number of people successfully do that. Most people are just giving their competitors a cheat sheet.
PPAs are cheap, though, so I would almost view them as using options to protect a portfolio. Most expire worthless, but if you need it you'll be thankful you paid for the insurance. The words "Patent Pending" on your business plan and press releases can also go a long way in some circles. Just a PPA can secure that.
Thanks - everyone commenting so far has added something useful. One thing I didn't mention in the initial question - can you recommend/not recommend any specific patent agent/attorney? ratsbane at gmail
All other things being equal, is Silicon Valley the best place in the galaxy to start and build a software or web services business? Hell yes. Will lots of startups that are started and built in Atlanta and Munich and London and Austin nonetheless be successful? Hell yes - but they should demo to investors in Silicon Valley.
I'm a former lawyer (corporate, technology, IP) who started a s/w company in 2000 and sold it for $120M in 2005. So I've been there and done that. I help (for free) Atlanta-based hacker teams think through the "legal issues" involved in starting a business, but I'm not really a lawyer any more. It's not that complicated:
(1) IMHO you should think first about the founder equity vesting issues. On the one hand, it wouldn't be fair for a co-founder to bail out after 2 months and keep all of her equity. On the other hand, it wouldn't be fair if her co-founders kicked her out after 2 months for no reason and left her with almost no equity. So there's a balance that needs to be reached, and the discussion can be emotional. With the lawyer's help, the team can strike their desired balance in an agreement that governs equity vesting, such as a restricted stock agreement. I can send you a sample agreement to illuminate the trade-offs. waytking AT gmail DOT com.
(2a) If all founders can't agree on the founder equity vesting balance, you do not have a startup team. Form another one.
(2b) If all founders agree on founder equity vesting balance, your lawyer can easily form your Delaware C-corp for a few hundred bucks. If you want ultimate flexibility, he can form a Delaware LLC and create your LLC operating agreement for around a thousand bucks. But a C-corp should be fine. Pay in cash - don't pay in equity.
In any city with a decent-sized tech community there will be lawyers willing to do the above for just a few hundred dollars, in the hope that you'll be successful and get big and give them significant legal work later on. You may need to dig to find such lawyers in your city, but they are there.
You will also be tempted to engage lawyers who promise to introduce you to VCs, angels, etc. IMHO this is not that valuable. If you are smart and resourceful, you will find the angels and VCs. If you are building stuff people want, the angels and VCs will invest in you, especially if you make them think you don't need their stinkin' money.