Strong opinions, weakly held

This and that

I wanted to highlight a couple of posts I saw elsewhere that are worth mentioning. The first is John Gruber’s argument that consumers would benefit if Apple had more competition, which I agree with wholeheartedly:

The point being that much of what gets chalked up as devotion to/obsession with Apple is, in fact, devotion to/obsession with great design, and there’s a utter dearth of rival PC or handheld gadget makers that value design as Apple does. The last time I was truly interested in an operating system that wasn’t from Apple was BeOS, and that was over 10 years ago.

Canon’s cameras are better because there’s Nikon — and vice-versa. Canon-vs.-Nikon arguments can get ugly, but in the end, they’re arguments about two companies that make great cameras and great lenses. Apple has no such rival.

I always think of the development tools market when I think about competition. Why are there so many good Web application development platforms? Fierce competition. Why are there two or three really outstanding Java IDEs? Fierce competition. Advances in the tools used to build and deploy Web applications are a huge driving force behind Web 2.0 and the current Internet bubble.

On a completely unrelated note, Evan Williams argues for the benefits of would-be Internet entrepreneurs migrating out to California:

So what’s the conclusion? First, Marc is completely right. In my case, anyway, Silicon Valley (or thereabouts) was exactly where I needed to be. The fact that I tried to start an Internet company in Nebraska for three years before coming out set me back at least three years—three formative years, no less, for the Internet (and for me). There was no reason, at 22, with a sense the Internet was going to be big, not to get my ass out here and get whatever job I could until I knew enough to go on my own. By staying in Nebraska, I relegated myself to spectator, even though I was trying to be a participant.

But why is that, exactly? I’m not saying its universal. It had a lot to do with maturity—both I and the Internet industry lacked it. I didn’t know what I was doing, and there was no one around for me to learn from. Most of the people doing what I wanted to do were in the Valley. So, while I learned lots of valuable lessons going the route I did, it took me way longer to figure things out than if I’d just come out and soaked in it.

In general, I think Marc’s advice applies—as Mark points out—in this type of scenario, where you’re young and want to be big in your field: Go to where the action is. And if you’re in the Internet, that’s Silicon Valley. There are more opportunities, companies, like-minded/impressive folks, and knowledge to be gained through osmosis here than anywhere else.

On the other hand, I don’t think (the other) Mark is wrong that it’s possible to build a successful Internet company in Omaha. It’s more possible today than ever, partially because the industry has matured. There are more people everywhere who know how to build things on the web. Also, some of the promises of the Internet have come true, such as the accessibility of knowledge and people no matter where you are. There’s a vast amount of valuable information about how to start and build companies that’s available for free on the web, which just was not there 10 years ago.

In 1996, I had a job offer in my hand from Netscape and the opportunity to move to the Silicon Valley all expenses paid. I turned it down. One thing’s for sure, I’m not a wildly successful Internet entrepreneur.

1 Comment

  1. Don’t feel bad Rafe, I have a friend who turned down a job at Google in 2001 to work for a wireless startup. I’ve never talked to him about that, I wonder how often he thinks about it.

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