I have been watching This Week in Startups quite a bit lately. As much as I like the shows, the guests, and even Jason Calacanis, he can really come off as a pompous jerk. The show I was watching this evening prompted this post when he started the show talking about having a bad day and as he started to reveal his day he started playing with his hair and mentioning that he “drove in with the tops down in the Tesla“. You know the type, the name dropping type of guy that would seem to be insecure, but I think there is more to him then that. I guess I am kind of annoyed with the side of web startups that are all that made the dotcom boom go bust. You know the guys that are constantly trying to figure out how they can squeeze money from the internet backbone as a junky tries to squeeze his fix from the dealer. Now don’t get me wrong there is an aggressive business side to every successful startup, but the web startups that seem to be the biggest booms are the ones that are created by someone that is passionate about solving a problem and in some cases they even start as they are trying to fix their individual problem(DHH Ruby on Rails). If for nothing else but to save some time (Rasmus Lerdof creator of PHP). Well those are they ideas that blowup because of the sincerity and the lack of the marketing, research pompous money grabbers. Then looking at the new startups Jason is working on seems to show that he cares so little about some of the things relating to his startups that his ideas lack focus and clarity. I loved when I found This Week in Startups and truly feel that is Jason’s niche only to find that now it is world domination, not just with startups (what I consider him rightly qualified for) but this week in books, games, iPads, coffee cups etc. Even Facebook came from a place of sincerity and a genuine need, not to mention obviously from the person that wanted to and was able to fill that niche.
As I search for my place in the larger picture of technology and where I feel best suited to venture out on my own. I also realize that just because I come up with an idea it does not mean that I am the right person to solve it. Like Jason’s Mahalo site I believe is way to vague to attract the future that most people would hope for in a solid startup. I know they are getting the traffic and such but I believe when these targets are narrowed down more to a fixed subject with a reason to exist they succeed because the need was waiting to be filled. Stackoverflow besides the fact of having Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood already hitting the ground running was able and passionate about solving the problem at hand. There are in my opinion a few ingredients needed for a successful web startup and the idea and implementation are two of those, but you can tell when the passion, sincerity and believability are missing. The startup has to be more than a company wanting to be sold, it must be a company able to sell and not only through the burst of hype that they get in the first year or two but in the years to come which comes from the genuine desire to solve a problem and follow through with it.
I know there are many who will disagree with me but if there are two camps of entrepeneurs on the web, the dotcommers and the hacker types, who would be there regardless of the millions in the bank.
I guess I would consider myself to be on the side of the Matt Mullenwegs (WordPress) of the web, more than the Jason Calacanises. If you want to see the difference watch some of the interviews Jason gives with the likes of a Matt Mullenweg or a David Heinemeier Hansson (Ruby on Rails, 37Signals) and you’ll see the difference when Jason asks these two about why they wouldn’t want to sell their companies and cash out now.
Just my two cents as always. But I still love ya Jason and will continue to watch the webcasts.