On Startup Culture

I admit to being skeptical before about startup culture in the technology sector, for a few reasons:

  • It smells of a gold-rush, a way to make a quick buck. I was brought up with an ethic to go and do your day’s work, work hard, get paid, and play your part.
  • This is inter-twined with rush to commercialise the Internet. This is not new, but it is eroding into the idealism of the early days of the Web when it was supposed to be the great equaliser in society, the open information platform.
  • To scale, you really need to get investment, which means compromising and handing over rights to your business and ideas.
  • I’m a software engineer, and solve problems presented by others. I don’t see myself as an ideas person, or at least don’t have the urge to act on ones I do have.

To make an analogy, startups to me are like young footballers who dream of playing for Manchester United or AC Milan or Real Madrid. Or indeed, even to play professional football at any level. How many make it? I don’t know, but I’d say less than 1%. I suspect the number of startups who are successful comes in at around the same percentage.

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