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Next Time Around

By valency in Technology
Sun Sep 02, 2001 at 06:06:17 PM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)
Technology

This excellent story was linked today over yonder. It gives an excellent insight into the dynamic between VC's and engineers, and basically boils down to the fact that VCs have power because they collude well. The startup atmosphere will return someday, and I'm wondering what we (the techies, researchers, dreamers, and doers) can do next time to affect this power dynamic.


It's not over

The SilVal/VC/engineer/garage/startup dynamic will return -- it's been around since Fairchild Semiconductor in the 1960's. So you'll forgive me if I'm skeptical when I hear people tell me that a forty year trend is over because of the events of the last 18 months. That said, I wouldn't be surprised at all if it takes five or even ten years to return, and is much, much more like the tech world of the late '80's and mid-90's than the crack-addled orgy of '98-'00. But I think it's foolish to presume that we've collected enough data in less than two years to conclude that it's over for good.

In a Funk

With all the hand-wringing and depression plaguing the tech industry these days, a lot of people are just throwing in the towel and leaving the industry. I've thought about that too, but tech is flowing in my veins and etched in my DNA, so I can't call it quits, no matter how hard I try. I'm left wondering how we can do better the next time around, and avert a repeat of this mess that was dumped upon us by MBA's and VC's, not Ph.D.'s and hackers.

Red Card, Blue Card

An economics professor walks up to the front of the classroom holding twenty red cards. He passes out twenty blue cards to the class. His TA walks in the room and offers $1.00 for every pair of red and blue cards handed to him. Students are prohibited from colluding. After much wheeling and dealing amongst the professor and his students, the market price of a blue card emerges at $0.50, since each student knows that in his negotiations with the professor, they both have equal power (if the student walks out on the deal, the professor's red card is useless).

Next lecture, the professor passes out only five blue cards. Now the market price emerges much lower -- since in one-on-one negotiations, the professor can threaten to walk out on the deal and pick up the next student's red card. He's forcing the twenty students to play musical chairs with only five chairs.

Playing Cards with VC's

VC's (and the entire financial industry) are very good at this game. The ability to play it stems from the fact that investment suffers from massive information asymmetries, and financiers essentially make their bags of money exploiting them (and equalizing them in the process).

Imagine that you're a billionaire and want to invest in technology. You don't have the time or know-how to interview entrepreneurs, read business plans, grill engineers, or perform due diligence. So you hire somebody else to do it. How do you know who to hire? Well, that boils down to who you trust, and for better or for worse humans base trust on interpersonal relationships. Friendships with rich risk-takers are far, far rarer than engineering talent, and hence the VC's are left with a five-card crimson hand.

What's Next?

The question I keep wondering is: what can we (techies, engineers, dreamers, researchers) do to shift the balance of power? We have to play red-card-blue-card with the VC's -- which means either turning their cards blue, or making our cards red. How can we either collude, or impede their collusion?

Give me some answers, kuro5hin, I know you're smart.

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o I plan to leave the tech industry in the near future 5%
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Next Time Around | 29 comments (20 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
Ban the stock exchange, unite with other geeks (4.50 / 8) (#6)
by MSBob on Sat Sep 01, 2001 at 10:10:33 PM EST

Let me tell you a story first. It's about a company which posted their highest ever profit last quarter. On the day of the report they layed off over a thousand employees. Why? Because of a slight dip in sales. Or so the report says. In actuality the truth behind the current rash of layoffs has nothing to do with companies' results and all to do with the fact that they often boost stock prices. Stock options are still a practiced form of compensation for top executives so it's naturally in their interest to keep the stock price from falling. Whatever the means of acomplishing that.

I don't know how to resurrect cool startups. Where I live (Canada) there is very little help from the government if you want to start your own business unless you have something like $300,000 upfront to cover most of your costs. Without the government's help VCs become the necessary evil. Of course, small companies don't need millions of dollars to begin with. That was the error of most dotcoms. All those five hundred developers shops should have been a couple of geeks with a copy of Perl and Linux. But some money is still needed to start even a smallest company.

When I left my dotcom(ish) job last year I wanted to start my own business writing application software for PDAs. I estimated I only needed around $200,000CAD before turning the profit. I already had some customer companies interested in the idea. There was no chance in hell of obtaining that kind of money from the Canadian government and I didn't want to consider going to a VC. Now I'm doing J2EE stuff (yawn!!) for a guy who made his fortune on the biggest IPO in Canadian history and is planning to cash in on the "new new economy". The irony of it all makes me burst with laughter from time to time.

Rather than creating cool jobs I'm occupying a rather dull position to keep paying the bills. Who's at fault here? I don't know. The government? To an extent. Greedy CEOs who have dollar signs in their eyes and to whom no business is important unless it has a turnover of more than 50 million dollars. I hate them with passion because of their worship of money. I don't hate money or capitalism but I hate greedy bastards who have no real sense of what is a valuable idea and what's not.

I think developers need to get together to create a cool startup. If I raised $10,000CAD of my own money and found nineteen other developers with 10 grand who believed in my idea something good could've come out of this. The moral of the story is: "developers, help each other out when trying to create a business". This way you have more of a chance to survive and less chance you'll get ripped off. Finding geeks with some savings might be easier now after the 98/99 bonanza which ironically, might help start more 'basement enterprises' as there is more money now in geeks' pockets and some smart cookies out there have no gainful employment. Oh, and in case you ask, yes I am an optimist.

I don't mind paying taxes, they buy me civilization.

Yes, very optimistic (4.25 / 4) (#18)
by Merkin on Sun Sep 02, 2001 at 09:53:31 PM EST

I like the idea, very utopian...

but

The chances of finding 19 other engineers is possible. However, the chance of finding 19 other engineers with 10 grand who agreed with your way of doing things enough to commit to it is very slim.

Nothing ever gets acheived by committees.

Damian

Learn to Improvise

[ Parent ]

A nice little earner (3.50 / 2) (#27)
by jbond23 on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 02:23:09 AM EST

There is another way. And it's the way that the vast majority of small businesses get built. you put your own savings into a small business and you try to get profitable before it runs out. Then you grow organically. If you're really lucky you can treat yourself to a nice holiday in the third year. It really feels like the late 90s was nothing but pimps, whores and suckers in a hall of mirrors. Which role did you play?

[ Parent ]
Phrased as a zero-sum game... (3.75 / 8) (#7)
by slaytanic killer on Sat Sep 01, 2001 at 10:44:11 PM EST

When I read that article over on Fascdot, I imagined how interesting it would be to read similar articles floating around in VC circles. After all, what do technical people do all day but take their own sweet time arrogantly creating things never quite quickly enough for the schedule. Don't they know they're doing this for their paychecks? Some of them think their code should be art.
We have to play red-card-blue-card with the VC's -- which means either turning their cards blue, or making our cards red. How can we either collude, or impede their collusion?
First, I imagine we should wonder why we play this game at all. We could, but it is instructive to wonder why we wish to begin a battle with people we already have determined hold the advantage. Do we really enjoy fighting on battlefields we don't control as well as our opponents do? Before we can talk about beating VCs at their own game, we need to find out the point, the exact goals that we meet.

Second, we have to assume that we are no longer "techies." We become people who want to make big companies and rely on VCs. VCs are simply investors with no ideas of their own to profit from. If that is the company we wish to keep, then we're no longer in opposition to VCs. We're investors ourselves, in a tenuous relationshp with these creatures.

Finally, it's a double-coincidence for you to have talent and find a good VC. This problem can be circumvented if you're a techie who's good at reading people, but that's just another coincidence. After all, we are meant to laugh at the VCs who sank money in online pet food stores, but which were the fools and who followed the fools? Incompetence is a fact of life -- there are incompetent techies and incompetent VCs.

If you find that tactically, going with one of these VCs is a sensible choice, then all I can say is that you should learn what they know, and be prepared to pay someone to teach you. Or have enough charisma that it is no longer a zero-sum game. If the thesis of this article is correct, that VCs have an informational advantage over techies, then the solution is to broadcast that information.

Why? Exposure and the muscle to resist IP laws. (3.33 / 3) (#8)
by valency on Sun Sep 02, 2001 at 03:26:56 AM EST

First, I imagine we should wonder why we play this game at all.

Among my goals are these two:

  1. To get the technology I create into the hands of a large number of people who will find it useful
  2. To not get pushed around by people with expensive lawyers quoting asinine intellectual property laws
Unfortunately, accomplishing the first goal requires a marketing department, and the second requires money. I wish that weren't the case, but it is, and it's going to stay that way for a long time.

Second, we have to assume that we are no longer "techies." We become people who want to make big companies and rely on VCs.

I don't think that's quite true. We might cease to be academics, but once you adopt the two goals above, you're still a techie -- just a pragmatic techie.



---
If you disagree, and somebody has already posted the exact rebuttal that you would use: moderate, don't post.
[ Parent ]

In that case... (4.00 / 4) (#14)
by slaytanic killer on Sun Sep 02, 2001 at 10:19:47 AM EST

My post was a much longer one which I cut down. People want marketing depts and people who understand distribution channels, as well as those with contacts to potential customers, so you're not always cold-calling. But getting a VC and growing quickly and early will garner heavy disadvantages. Businesses impose constraints on technical issues that can't be ignored.

For one thing, different departments need to move in lockstep. The executive dept will need to have a heartbeat from the developers, and the way to do that is for the developers to always have "something to show." That focus will on the average tend to make people cut corners in design, which will hurt eventually.

My experience with this is happening right now. My job is to get a company off the ground technically, and I wasn't here since the beginning. The early goal was to get off the ground and funded, even if that meant the design was terribly suboptimal. The next goal is to gain breathing space to integrate a sane design that isn't plagued by leaks and workarounds. So in other words, we are dealing with a situation with its disadvantages, and work to smooth them out. The technology is fairly basic but interesting, and an approach unclouded by money would have gone to market faster.

1. To get the technology I create into the hands of a large number of people who will find it useful
2. To not get pushed around by people with expensive lawyers quoting asinine intellectual property laws
Even getting that straight is interesting. You're clearly a hardware person, from that list. My strategy for dealing with that is working at a large company and gaining significant clout quick so you can pursue pet projects which require lots of capital. ;) I certainly have never worked for a hardware business (just for university), so while I know intellectually that you want an efficiency of scale, I can only guess that you want partnerships with companies that have a vested interest in your survival, as well as other things that mitigate economies of scale.

Everything I've ever heard about VCs leads me to believe that they're marketing jobs, for people without the ability or temperament to get money and defense in other ways. It may sound like the only easy or even possible way, but the piper will get his due.

[ Parent ]

Cool ain't necessarily profitable (4.42 / 7) (#9)
by TheophileEscargot on Sun Sep 02, 2001 at 04:08:42 AM EST

I hate to say this [bring on the 1's baby! bring 'em! grrrrr!] but cool projects aren't necessarily going to make much money. There is a grain of truth in the VC's fear that the engineers are going to go off and do cool stuff that never gets quite finished; and never gets moron-proof and stable enough to sell.

I think the only answer is stock and dividends, and no, I don't mean fscking options [yes I got burned]. Options just encourage the ramp-up-the-stock-price-then-quit thing that messed up the last boom. Give a small team of techies stock, and share the profits among the stockholders. That gives the team an incentive to test, debug, keep the interface simple, and to actually ship.

Unfortuately there was another, psychology experiment that I read about. In this one the professor holds up a dollar bill and auctions it off, starting at a price of one cent. What he found was that especially with competitive VC types, the bidding would ofter go up to tens of dollars. Those people wanted to win goddammit! The same thing seems to happen with start-ups: the VCs won't give real incentives to the techies. They want the stock and the profits, goddammit, and those techies aren't getting a cent.
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death

The other psych experiment... (4.25 / 4) (#17)
by magney on Sun Sep 02, 2001 at 06:27:36 PM EST

I've heard of this one. It's called the dollar auction, and the thing that keeps the bidding going there is that both the winner and the runner-up have to pay, but only the winner gets the dollar.

I have no idea if this analogizes to the VC market in any way, and even if it does it might be a bit of a force-fit.

Do I look like I speak for my employer?
[ Parent ]

Dollar auction (4.00 / 1) (#21)
by greenrd on Mon Sep 03, 2001 at 07:17:30 AM EST

Believe it or not, it's not rational to bid at all in such an auction. Those who do, realise it too late.<p>
"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]
Played both sides of the game. (5.00 / 8) (#10)
by Sawzall on Sun Sep 02, 2001 at 05:58:03 AM EST

In one life, I was working for a VC funded start-up. 4.5 years of growth, steady, increased valuation. Round D for big dollars, I was a paper millionaire.

But there was a hitch. The VC's wanted their CFO. He was installed. We were toast in 6 months. I left with a severence package since I was in a postition to know the burn rate and they needed me to screw with the idiot auditors (lie). Everything that was said in the article about the "experts" seemed to be true to me. My job was to tell them why it was like some other deal they had funded, even when it wasn't.

Once I left, I started playing the other side. I knew VC's, angels and the game. Started helping putting deals together. Did this for few years, then got depressed about it. I was not doing anything but pimping.

What did I learn? Two types of people start companies - ones who have an idea, another set who want to make money. You know which one gets funding and who gets screwed? Same set. The guy who wants to make money never signs one of those term sheets since he can see far enough down the road - they never do give enough money or the cost is too high.

There seemed to be one wierd case that happened a couple of times. The guy with the idea met up with the guy who wanted to make money very early and started something as equals (Of which everybody will tell you won't work). I would now look back and tell you these were the only ones that did work. Maybe because they were old buddies, or they had some karma match, but they hung together. In both cases I know of, they are still making it. Tough to say in these days.

So I guess my moral to the story is those two need to meet up early and work for their plan, not the VC's. Because if you just have the idea, but not the other guy, the VC will give him to you. But he will always work for the VC, not your plan.

pimpin' (4.00 / 3) (#11)
by valency on Sun Sep 02, 2001 at 06:34:34 AM EST

Did this for few years, then got depressed about it. I was not doing anything but pimping.

I find it tremendously disturbing that you are the third entrepreneur-turned-VC who I've heard use the word "pimping" in this context. =)

---
If you disagree, and somebody has already posted the exact rebuttal that you would use: moderate, don't post.
[ Parent ]

Re: Pimping (4.33 / 3) (#12)
by Sawzall on Sun Sep 02, 2001 at 07:49:57 AM EST

Why use pimping?

Because of the despiration of those seeking funding most of the time. And the method those of us who "used" them made money. We got a cut - a percentage both in terms of money and stock usually. We locked them up in paper so that we were damn near their only source of money. Even if they got lucky and found another source, we still got paid. We got ours first. They could not take down a dime without us and our hand in the pie.

Secondly, they were easy to find, just like cruising the Port Authority bus terminal in NYC. Had the same lost look on their face - and we knew the words to get them into the game. Which is what Pimps call it too.

On the defense of this, I took risks too. If the company did not get money, I got none either. (The folk who charged up-front fees for this are just frauds - VC's would not touch one of those clients). 90% of the time (or even larger), this is what happened. I had to look at the idea, the company, the people and see if I thought it had a chance. I was wrong most of the time. But the potential payoff was big enough to keep you playing.

[ Parent ]

High-tech VCs are too passive (4.80 / 5) (#19)
by Tom Lord on Mon Sep 03, 2001 at 05:16:39 AM EST

High-tech VC's ought to regard themselves as advance R&D organizations, and optimize for performing that function. They're almost there -- all they're missing is engineering and business development.

As I read the high-tech capital market, the trend has been in the direction of optimizing the process of forming and administering corporations once an allegedly good product idea has been found. This is called "business incubation" or "highly involved investing". Forming a corporation, managing the money, administering HR, generating sales leads and marketing channels, renting or building facilities -- all of these have become commoditized, carefully cost and (sometimes) quality controlled processes.

There are two places where the incubator model falls down: First, there is a shortage of good product ideas and precious little investment in coming up with more. Second, incubators are good at optimizing the corporate process, but there has been little or no investment in engineering process.

A shortage of good product ideas means that there isn't much that's really worth investing in. A failure to invest in engineering processes means that when investment occurs, it is needlessly inefficient and risky (by numerous metrics).

How can these shortcomings be solved?

There are three traditional sources of "good product ideas": universities, skunk-works, and corporate R&D labs attached to systems vendors. None of these sources is optimal, or particularly effective for VCs. Universities aren't chartered to feed product ideas to VC's: it isn't what they ought to be doing and, for the most part, it isn't what they do. High-impact skunk-works projects are more legendary than truthful: there's the original Apple computer and then there's....what? Corporate R&D labs feed their host corporations, not VCs.

In addition to paying CEOs-in-residence, VCs have to learn to pay engineers-in-residence: they ought to become R&D organizations. And rather than sit around "advising" -- both the engineers and CEOs-in-waiting ought to be actively hacking. The engineers can work on creating the conditions out of which product ideas emerge and are brought to market. The execs can work on implementing cost-effective trial runs of products: especially consumer oriented products.

As for engineering process: here VCs seem to have bought into the idea that engineering process comes for free. If you have something to build, why you just hire a team, right? If you hire wisely, why they'll just magically gather together in your warehouse and automagically organize to do the right thing.

In fact, good engineering process is a property of long-lived, highly cultured organizations more than it is a set of skills possessed by individual engineers. Instead of building teams around product ideas, VCs would be wiser to build teams who can be fed a series of products. Such teams might be without charter between products: a perfect opportunity for them to _practice_ and hone their (organizational) craft.

In short, today's high-tech investors are simply too passive. They wait around for the next big thing, and then do their best to beat the competition at executing that allegedly big thing. What they need to do is become active -- to stop wasting money on one-hit-wonder-wannabes, and to start paying engineers to work, organize, perfect, and play.

Skunk works (5.00 / 2) (#22)
by richieb on Mon Sep 03, 2001 at 11:16:48 AM EST

High-impact skunk-works projects are more legendary than truthful: there's the original Apple computer and then there's....what?.

The F-111 Stealth fighter was designed and build by a "skunk works" sub-organization of Lockheed. See the book "Skunk Works" by Ben Rich and Leo Janos.

...richie
It is a good day to code.
[ Parent ]

Not relevant to VCs though (none / 0) (#23)
by simon farnz on Mon Sep 03, 2001 at 11:42:50 AM EST

The point is that most skunk works are part of bigger companies, not "garage operations"; few of them have any interest in VC funding.

I think I agree with the parent comment; if VCs want a good supply of sound engineering ideas, they are going to have to pay for skunk works of their own.
--
If guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns
[ Parent ]

Why would they want to? (4.00 / 2) (#25)
by cooldev on Mon Sep 03, 2001 at 04:48:11 PM EST

I think I agree with the parent comment; if VCs want a good supply of sound engineering ideas, they are going to have to pay for skunk works of their own.

That's silly. VC's don't need to pay for tech research. They're in the enviable position of having the entire population do their own research and only come to them after they have a good product or idea. The problem with research is that you're never guaranteed anything useful. VC's can sit around waiting for a useful idea at no cost to them, and then pick and choose which ones they want to invest in.

There are plenty of companies that do real research, but research is expensive. Even the wealthiest VCs would have trouble sustaining a sizable R&D organization. Just take a look at some of the top few. These are yearly figures from 2000, most of the companies on the list have increased R&D spending since then.

  1. Ford - $7.23 billion
  2. Lucent - 6.43
  3. GM - 6.33
  4. IBM - 4.84
  5. Du Pont - 4.58
  6. Intel - 4.01
  7. Motorola - 3.81
  8. Microsoft - 3.76
  9. Pfizer - 3.12
  10. Cisco - 2.89

Source: AAAS Report on R&D http://www.aaas.org/spp/dspp/rd/xxvi/chap4.htm



[ Parent ]
What comes after the Model T? (5.00 / 4) (#26)
by Tom Lord on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 01:35:05 AM EST

VC's don't need to pay for tech research. They're in the enviable position of having the entire population do their own research and only come to them after they have a good product or idea.

That's the "better mousetrap" model of research. Someone designs a better mousetrap, and (assuming we know that there is or can be demand for better mousetraps) the economic puzzle is immediately reduced to a well understood production, marketing, sales, and distribution problem. That's a relatively easy puzzle to solve because, for example, manufacturing processes for non-precision, small, simple mechanical devices made from non-exotic materials are mature technology. Competition in that arena seems to me to be mostly over very slight differences in quality and cost.

For the most part, computing systems don't really work that way. Software, especially, is an immature technology: new techniques and new foundational components are easy to come by (though not for free) and can drastically alter the landscape of possible products. There is tons of head-room for improving product production pipelines. Even the marketing and sales problems are wide open for aggressive exploration: How, for example, will software be delivered to consumers in 10 or 15 years? That question is tied deeply to question of how computing systems will be architected in 10 or 15 years -- itself an open question. The whole space is still, mostly, wild territory.

Currently, the software industry is mostly concerned with plucking the (perceived) low-hanging fruit. There is little investment in R&D aimed at building new foundational components: new "basis sets" of software from which families of products can be constructed. There is little investment in improving engineering processes. There is little investment in exploring the nature of spontaneous demand for new kinds of computing system. Consequently, numerous opportunities languish and a lot of investment redundantly chases fads (start counting "set top box" companies, for example).

I think the cheap workstation and Internet explosions have something to do with this. Computing rapidly became cheap and popular. A lot of things we already knew how to do suddenly became valuable. It made sense to put up a shack with cubicles in Silicon Valley and crank out boilerplate systems -- often quality wasn't terribly important; engineering for the future wasn't terribly important: quickly deploying computing everywhere, without much need for advancement in technique or functionality, was the game.

In that period of growth, I suspect, a lot of investors came to (incorrectly) regard software construction as about as well understood as, say, house construction. You draft a plan, hire foremen, they hire journeymen and everyone gets to work in the usual way. To build the house, it goes without stating they'll work with standard cuts of lumber, standard plumbing fixtures, and the usual components for electrical wiring.

But in fact, the software industry is ripe for revolutionary changes in process, technique, and foundational building blocks. Those are the areas in which VC-driven R&D investment is both needed and likely to pay off.

It isn't necessary, by far, for VCs to match the R&D budgets of the IBMs, Suns and Microsofts of the world. Indeed, the R&D organizations hosted by those organizations are mostly working on a different problem entirely: extending the life of the legacy systems which are their source of funding. There is ample room for a few dozen software engineers to upset the board, invent a new future, and spin off plenty of immensely profitable businesses. It is a good bet that if a few hundred or thousand engineers are put to the task, that at least some of them will succeed.

The problem with research is that you're never guaranteed anything useful. VC's can sit around waiting for a useful idea at no cost to them, and then pick and choose which ones they want to invest in.

It's true that no particular line of practical research is guaranteed to produce anything useful. You might also want to note that, given the current state of product engineering, a VC armed with a perfectly viable product idea and more than enough money is also not guaranteed to produce anything useful. In fact, VCs in that circumstance have what ought to be regarded as a dismal track record.

At the beginning of, say, the automobile industry -- it made very good sense for capitalists to invest not simply in new models of cars, but in the entire process of designing and producing cars. Todays computing system VCs, if you believe what they write in their "investment focus" or "strategy" web pages, are 100% focused on the next model of car. They need to expand their horizons.

[ Parent ]

well ...errr.... that's capitalism (4.50 / 2) (#20)
by streetlawyer on Mon Sep 03, 2001 at 06:56:07 AM EST

For people who are supposedly very bright, you "engineers" seem to have trouble understanding the principle that people with capital have an advantage over people without, and that people with no legal obligation to be nice to you, usually won't be if it profits them not to be.

And as for the proposed solutions ... for Chrissake. The author of the article starts off by claiming that engineers "are good at finding optimal solutions", and finishes by suggesting that engineers all club together and invest the "nerd-friendly way". Here's an optimisation problem for you:

Which of these VC funds would you rather invest in:
  1. A nice, fuzzt, nerd-friendly fund that is going to let other engineers keep loads of equity in their companies, or
  2. A nasty, unfriendly one that is going to negotiate hardball to increase returns for you?
In any case, the idea that the progress made in technology is entirely down to the "gifted engineers" and that the eeeevil capitalists have only held things back is utterly unproven and doesn't stand up to a moment's scrutiny. China, India and Russia are not exactly short of gifted scientists, mathematicians and engineers, but they are short of venture capitalists.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
optimization problem (4.50 / 2) (#24)
by Tom Lord on Mon Sep 03, 2001 at 01:46:25 PM EST

  • Which of these VC funds would you rather invest in:
    • 1.A nice, fuzzt, nerd-friendly fund that is going to let other engineers keep loads of equity in their companies, or
    • 2.A nasty, unfriendly one that is going to negotiate hardball to increase returns for you?

I want to invest in:

  • 3.A fund managed by clever, proactive people who understand their industry well enough to spend money in a way that makes that industry stronger and gives them an advantaged position within that industry.

In the case of computing systems, that fund will not only be nerd-friendly, it will be Free Software friendly and have an Open Source processes orientation. And hackers won't just work for the fund -- they'll invest in it right alongside the bigger capitalists.

Here, read this.

[ Parent ]

Robert Anton Wilson wrote about power matrices . . (none / 0) (#28)
by kozmikyak on Tue Sep 04, 2001 at 03:31:21 AM EST

probably got the idea elsewhere, but the point was that every exercise of power or authority is based on disinformation, or one-way information flow, between two parties. Each of the two parties can be collective or individual.

Next Time Around | 29 comments (20 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
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