Thursday, September 23, 2010

The London startup scene: Party like a rock star?

Too much funding and boozing? Not enough collaboration and execution?

Sounds like criticism reserved for troubled rock stars on the brink of a break-up, but Ben Colclough sees the same problems in the startup scene (specifically in London).
TechCrunch: The London startup scene: Too much funding, boozing and not enough collaboration and execution
Reminds me of a nice analogy drawn out by Shane Snow and referenced by Fred Wilson, which compares a Rock Band to a Tech Start-Up. I agree that the analogy is pretty spot on, except that it does not address what happens "if all goes wrong"... and chances are, it will.

Consider that in 2008, 106,000 new albums were released, but only 64 albums went Gold in 2009; meanwhile, 11,716 venture deals were struck between 2007 and 2009, but there were only 104 IPOs over that same time period (according to Thompson Reuters). Signing with a record label or a VC does not guarantee success, but sales sure will. I agree with Colclough that more time and attention needs to be paid to this piece of entrepreneurship.

Not that it should be all work and no play, though. Take Music Hackday London, which encourages collaboration and networking, but is centered around executing something quickly.

Work hard and have fun, but save the real celebration for later.

Read the full post at TechCrunch

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9 Years After 9/11

On September 11, 2001, I was sitting through a calculus class that was too easy for me... and I knew it.

The class was taught in the early morning in a building at the very edge of Emory University's campus; yet I knew I would get an 'A' by the end of the semester and that seemed to matter more than the inconvenience. I was bleary-eyed and bored, measuring my life in its achievements, not in its moments.

That was my first full week of college in Atlanta, when I still felt very far from my home and from my dearest friends. Still, I was beginning to feel settled at Emory. Making new friends had not been as difficult as I thought it would be, and I could quickly overcome the homesickness by calling my family in Maryland.

I don't remember what was taught in class on that September day, yet I remember so many other strange things from the hours that followed: the cartoon drawn on the whiteboard in the entryway to my dorm; the busy signal I heard when I called my father's office near the Pentagon; the cheap candle wax that dripped on to my hand during the evening vigil on the quad; the call I made to my high school crush.

In the years that followed, I have been interested to learn what we -- as Americans -- choose to remember from 9/11. What once provided unity seems to have instead deepened our divisions. I've observed some people manipulate the facts for advantageous reasons, while others have simply dismissed those facts entirely... and I never know how to reconcile the two.

As one of my favorite Emory professors observed, this generation created a "divided America," one engaged in a ferocious struggle for power. Yet for a moment -- nine years ago -- we all shared in a common experience, one marked by confusion, sadness and disbelief. The cheap candles we clung to gave us reason to come together and allowed us to feel less alone on a day of immense tragedy. On that day we did not characterize ourselves by our economic, political or religious beliefs, but shared in our human condition. 9/11 reminded us how fragile our world is.

As I reflect on this September day, there are so many things I want to tell my younger self: take the harder calculus class; call your family every day; tell your crush how you feel; pray for the people you love.

Yet even now I forget those things and still feel like a freshman in the first week of classes. I hardly understand why there is so much hatred in the world and why we make love seem like such a difficult task.

But on this day I also remember that life is a blessing; every day, a blessing. That this is the lesson I take away from so much tragedy seems entirely unfair.