Does Silicon Valley noise detract from long-term value creation? From Andrew Chen’s blog

Now that I’ve been here for a few years, it’s clear to me that the Silicon Valley echochamber has its clear negatives as well. Being out of touch with the average American consumer is one obvious negative. Chasing down technological rabbit holes is another.

One of the most common conversations you’ll overhear at any startup event is one entrepreneur giving another entrepreneur their elevator pitch. Or, you’ll overhear an entrepreneur giving their pitch to a prospective startup engineer. In fact, I would argue that many startups spend more time talking to other people “in the know,” than they do potential customers, whether those startup savvy people are investors, job candidates, fellow entrepreneurs, advisors.

Stop reading blogs so damn much
Have a strong vision that’s flexible yet specific
Ignore the competition
Don’t go to startup events
Forgo short-term opportunities if they are clearly short-term
Be skeptical of opportunities that are both hot, and easy
Remember that you only need one big success

I was very surprised to read this post on Andrew Chen’s blog. Since I’ve moved back to San Francisco, I figured everyone here was *all about* the web 2.0 scene.

I enjoy going to web events occasionally, and I’ve met other company founders who are really awesome. But for the most part, I’ve never really understood the appeal of immersing yourself into the scene here. People in SF seem to lack balance, they are unable to connect to normal users.

Even events like SXSW bother me. They are simply ways to meet other entrepreneurs and pat each other on the back. Nothing is learned or accomplished. If anything, it makes you even more disconnected from the normal world. You leave SXSW with the desire to build yet another location based social network, with tight Twitter integration.

I’ve also always believed in the “one big success” idea. So many entrepreneurs go from company to company, idea to idea. Either they are incredibly smart and can come up with ideas faster than I can, or they are chasing the wrong goal and are starting crappy companies just for the sake of having a company. I waited many years to start a company. I waited for the idea that was worth quitting my job for, taking a risk on.

I know my time at Apple greatly affected what Posterous is today. But I wonder if my time in New York also helped shape the product into something more accessible to the mass public. While I was in New York, few of my friends were programmers, and none were super techy.

I remember a long time ago when I was showing off Posterous to a friend. Well, it wasn’t called “Posterous” and it was only on my local machine. My friend suggested that instead of making a standalone product, I should make it a plugin for WordPress or Movable Type. I told him I have zero interest in installing and managing WordPress, and hundreds of millions of other people don’t want to either.

I think if I had been immersed in the web 2.0 tech scene, Posterous would simply be a WordPress plugin, and only used by geeks like me :).

11 comments

  1. Great post. What about meeting non-tech people in SF? Just because you are in SF doesn’t mean you have to be in the bubble.

  2. Thanks for bringing us Posterous. And thanks for sharing your thoughts. You realize you may have just made yourself quite unpopular up there in SOMA. No more parties for you. lol Oh well, your product is better than most of there products. And the fact that you and Garry actually use it and share valuable information with all of us (not just marketing crap, but real content, coding ideas, and business conversation) make the Posterous experience even better. I have used several blogging platforms over the years including Blogger, WordPress and recently Tumblr. Posterous became my primary platform as a result of the feedback and posts of its users, not the marketing hype of its execs/founders/vc’s. Stay true to that vision and you will have great success.

  3. It’s definitely important to break out of the tech bubble and meet non techy people, but it’s not very easy when you come from Stanford and you are an engineer.That’s why I moved to New York. I had no trouble meeting new people, and my friends worked in all different fields.We’re definitely actively trying to meet new people here, and break out of the tech scene. And we’ll be moving to the mission soon too, so no more SOMA

  4. I don’t know if New York had an influence on you, but surely it must have. I find entrepreneurs from there to be far more practical than most others. I don’t know if it has to do with the proximity to Wall Street or the distance from Silicon Valley, but it’s noticeable. Keep on doing what you’re doing!

  5. By the way, right on about the culture of mutual backslapping and lack of connection to the needs & wants of real, normal people.

  6. It appears to me that you followed your intuition and proceeded with integrity. And I am glad you did that. 🙂

  7. actually one thing that strikes me about your post and product and web2.0 points is that to really succeed it is about balance. knowing that not everyone ‘gets’ it is huge. doing things at the right time when you have ‘life’ balance also i think defines our progress. fantastic blogposts. really engaging.

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