Tag startups

The death of advertising authenticity

In the old days, you could take out a quarter page ad in the newspaper and become more legitimate. Some people would open their morning paper and see your logo and message next to the most reputable word about what's happening. Your ad would sit next to ones by trusted brands like Macy's, Cadillac and Fidelity. Ads cost a lot of money, because newspapers had costs they had to cover. Prices remained high because the newspaper controlled page count. There were finite resources, so supply and demand applied.

Today, if you take out a display ad on the Internet, you're likely to see ads for punch-the-monkey, colon cleansing, and Acai Berry scams. Ads cost nothing because of an infinite supply of untargeted display space on the web. And so if you take that ad in the wasteland of low-trust brands, you will become less legitimate.

Attention transforms into a very free-form resource. This comes directly out of the hypertext nature of the web. I can go in any direction and find any information at a moment's notice. I am not shackled to one set of newsprint sitting in front of me. When you take away those limitations, my attention can go to whatever is most interesting or most fit at that moment.

When attention becomes unshackled, we expect good stories and good products to come to us. That's how mint.com got huge without spending a single dime on traditional or online advertising. Great products and great services grow organically. Nobody will ever tell their friends about that AWESOME punch the monkey scams and colon cleansing scams they participated in. As a result, authenticity can no longer be purchased. It must be earned.

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Build it

"If only I had ____ I would succeed."

These simple words will kill your dreams faster than anything else you could say or think. There are so many self-defeating thoughts that an entrepreneur can have, and they often take this very simple form.

One of the more common phrases you hear if you spend any time around aspiring entrepreneurs is "If only I had a technical cofounder..." This is a cringe-worthy thing to say. If you want to build a technology company, how is it that you can start without a technical background? It is not impossible, but damn near close to it. If you don't possess the skills currently to build it yourself, then you've got a problem.

There is an inverse correlation between how much you need something and how readily available that thing is to you. When it rains it pours. This applies directly to your ability. If you can code, design, market, sell, and ship your product, then you will have one hell of an easier time finding people to do each of those things for you. If you can only do one or two of those things, you've got a lot more needs, and it will be that much harder to fill them. Self-reliance fixes this.

So what is a non-techie aspriring entrepreneur to do? The most straightforward thing possible, naturally. Code. Learn to do it. Learn to build. Pick up a book and type out the examples. To create great things, there are blood sweat and tears. It might take two years or ten, but better a dream realized in ten years than not at all.

The good innovation -- the innovation that makes the world a better place and builds real wealth in society -- that stuff is done by radically self-reliant creators who get their hands dirty. Not talkers. Not dreamers. Builders.

So I leave you with one simple command as you work on your dreams.

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Urgency: For early stage startup founders, you live and die by it.

At the exact moment you had your idea, ten other people had the exact same idea. There was just something in the environment that made it the right time for folks to think that one up. The race has already begun! Who’s going to execute first? Who’s going to execute best? If you want to waste nine months trying to raise VC money for that idea, great. But six months in, you’re gonna cry when you see someone else put out that same product you’re pitching me right now. Like I said, forget everything else and just get your product out the door. Now.
--Seth Sternberg, Meebo via techcrunch.com

Awesome article over at techcrunch -- must-read for the creators out there.

Get. Your. Product. Out. The. Door.

Palantir featured in the Wall Street Journal: Fighting Terrorism the Silicon Valley Way

via online.wsj.com

I was the #10 employee at Palantir -- it was a blast to join such a talented team early on beginning, and I totally miss all my old colleagues and the awesome work we got to do there!

It's great to see Palantir getting the recognition they deserve. Seriously the most important startup in Silicon Valley that doesn't want or need mad crazy press.

Also very cool -- WSJ writes more: How Team of Geeks Cracked the Spy Trade

Palantir is hiring awesome engineers too, so if you're looking for a place to make a difference and build amazing software, garrytan [at] gmail d. com and I can refer you!

Is social media a fad? Social media in 2009 = Multimedia in 1993

Cynics will roll their eyes, but there are some really interesting stats in this video.

Is Social media in 2009 = Multimedia in 1993? CD-ROM's were big and new then. Siliwood, or multimedia gulch, they called San Francisco. People were going nuts about interactive video. There was real tech behind it. There were cool new user scenarios and experiences unlocked before our eyes. Interact with a movie? Tell stories in a whole new way? It was a veritable boom.

We don't talk about multimedia anymore -- but maybe that's because the boom fulfilled its promise. Here's hoping social media can overcome its hype curve as well. And we're on the front lines. Damn, it's an exciting time to be alive.