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Sam Altman’s Manifest Destiny - The New Yorker
OCTOBER 10, 2016 |New Yorker | Tad Friend.

Quotation from Admiral Hyman Rickover. “The great end of life is not knowledge, but action,” ...“I believe it is the duty of each of us to act as if the fate of the world depended on him. . . . We must live for the future, not for our own comfort or success.”
Sam_Altman  doers  Y_Combinator  Silicon_Valley  start_ups  investors  entrepreneur  quotes  Paul_Graham  Peter_Thiel  action-oriented  forward_looking  future 
october 2016 by jerryking
The path to enlightenment and profit starts inside the office
(Feb. 2, 2016): The Financial Times | John Thornhill.

Competition used to be easy. That is in theory, if not always in practice. Until recently, most competent companies had a clear idea of who their rivals were, how to compete and on what field to fight.

One of the starkest - and scariest - declarations of competitive intent came from Komatsu, the Japanese construction equipment manufacturer, in the 1970s. As employees trooped into work they would walk over doormats exhorting: "Kill Caterpillar!". Companies benchmarked their operations and market share against their competitors to see where they stood.

But that strategic clarity has blurred in so many industries today to the point of near-invisibility thanks to the digital revolution and globalisation. Flying blind, companies seem happier to cut costs and buy back their shares than to invest purposefully for the future. Take the European telecommunications sector. Not long ago most telecoms companies were national monopolies with little, or no, competition. Today, it is hard to predict where the next threat is going to erupt.

WhatsApp, the California-based messaging service, was founded in 2009 and only registered in most companies' consciousness when it was acquired by Facebook for more than $19bn in 2014. Yet in its short life WhatsApp has taken huge bites out of the lucrative text messaging markets. Today, WhatsApp has close to 1bn users sending 30bn messages a day. The global SMS text messaging market is just 20bn a day.

Car manufacturers are rapidly wising up to the threat posed by new generation tech firms, such as Tesla, Google and Uber, all intent on developing "apps on wheels". Chinese and Indian companies, little heard of a few years ago, are bouncing out of their own markets to emerge as bold global competitors.

As the driving force of capitalism , competition gives companies a purpose, a mission and a sense of direction. But how can companies compete in such a shape-shifting environment? There are perhaps two (partial) answers.

The first is to do everything to understand the technological changes that are transforming the world, to identify the threats and opportunities early.

Gavin Patterson , chief executive of BT, the British telecoms group, says one of the functions of corporate leaders is to scan the horizon as never before. "As a CEO you have to be on the bridge looking outwards, looking for signs that something is happening, trying to anticipate it before it becomes a danger."

To that end, BT has opened innovation "scouting teams" in Silicon Valley and Israel, and tech partnerships with universities in China, the US, Abu Dhabi, India and the UK.

But even if you foresee the danger, it does not mean you can deal with it. After all, Kodak invented the first digital camera but failed to exploit the technology. The incentive structures of many companies are to minimise risk rather than maximise opportunity. Innovation is often a young company's game.

The second answer is that companies must look as intensively inwards as they do outwards (e.g. opposing actions). Well-managed companies enjoy many advantages: strong brands, masses of consumer data, valuable historic data sets, networks of smart people and easy access to capital. But what is often lacking is the ambition that marks out the new tech companies, their ability to innovate rapidly and their extraordinary connection with consumers. In that sense, the main competition of so many established companies lies within their own organisations.

Larry Page, co-founder of Google, constantly urges his employees to keep being radical. In his Founders' Letter of 2013, he warned that companies tend to grow comfortable doing what they have always done and only ever make incremental change. "This . . . leads to irrelevance over time," he wrote.

Google operates a 70/20/10 rule where employees are encouraged to spend 70 per cent of their time on their core business, 20 per cent on working with another team and 10 per cent on moonshots. How many traditional companies focus so much on radical ventures?

Vishal Sikka, chief executive of the Indian IT group Infosys, says that internal constraints can often be far more damaging than external threats. "The traditional definition of competition is irrelevant. We are increasingly competing against ourselves," he says.

Quoting Siddhartha by the German writer Hermann Hesse, Mr Sikka argues that companies remain the masters of their own salvation whatever the market pressures: "Knowledge can be communicated. Wisdom cannot." He adds: "Every company has to find its own unique wisdom." [This wisdom reference is reminiscent of Paul Graham's advice to do things that don't scale].

john.thornhill@ft.com
ambitions  brands  breakthroughs  BT  bureaucracies  competition  complacency  constraints  Fortune_500  incentives  incrementalism  Infosys  innovation  introspection  irrelevance  large_companies  LBMA  messaging  mission-driven  Mondelez  moonshots  opposing_actions  organizational_culture  outward_looking  Paul_Graham  peripheral_vision  radical  risk-avoidance  scouting  smart_people  start_ups  staying_hungry  tacit_knowledge  technological_change  threats  uniqueness  unscalability  weaknesses  WhatsApp  wisdom  digital_cameras  digital_revolution  historical_data 
april 2016 by jerryking
Powerful Thoughts From Paul Graham — Ross Hudgens
21. Empathy is probably the single most important difference between a good hacker and a great one. Some hackers are quite smart, but practically solipsists when it comes to empathy. It’s hard for such people to design great software, because they can’t see things from the user’s point of view.

25. In a field like physics, if we disagree with past generations it’s because we’re right and they’re wrong. But this becomes rapidly less true as you move away from the certainty of the hard sciences. By the time you get to social questions, many changes are just fashion.

34. Whatever the reason, there seems a clear correlation between intelligence and willingness to consider shocking ideas. This isn’t just because smart people actively work to find holes in conventional thinking. Conventions also have less hold over them to start with. You can see that in the way they dress.

43. E.B. White was amused to learn from a farmer friend that many electrified fences don’t have any current running through them. The cows apparently learn to stay away from them, and after that you don’t need the current. | If you’re a hacker who has thought of one day starting a startup, there are probably two things keeping you from doing it. One is that you don’t know anything about business. The other is that you’re afraid of competition. Neither of these fences have any current in them.

50. But since for most of the world’s history the main route to wealth was to steal it, we tend to be suspicious of rich people.

59. “A lot of the (people applying to be graduate students at MIT) seem smart,” he said. “What I can’t tell is whether they have any kind of taste.” Taste. You don’t hear that word much now. And yet we still need the underlying concept, whatever we call it. What my friend meant was that he wanted students who were not just good technicians, but who could use their technical knowledge to design beautiful things.

64. Good design resembles nature. It’s not so much that resembling nature is intrinsically good as that nature has had a long time to work on the problem. So it’s a good sign when your answer resembles nature’s.

70. You’re most likely to get good design if the intended users include the designer himself. When you design something for a group that doesn’t include you, it tends to be for people you consider less sophisticated than you, not more sophisticated. And looking down on the user, however benevolently, always seems to corrupt the designer. [Good design therefore requires personal risk? having skin in the game?]

76. “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.” – C.S. Lewis
biomimicry  business  inspiration  productivity  quotes  start_ups  Paul_Graham  Y_Combinator  via:hotchkiss  empathy  design  UX  hackers  personal_risk  PhDs  aesthetics  dangerous_ideas  smart_people  the_single_most_important 
november 2014 by jerryking
The Single Worst Marketing Decision You Can Make
Oct 29 2014 | LinkedIn | Ryan Holiday, Founder, Partner at Brass Check

Make something people want.

—Paul Graham

Growth hackers believe that products—even whole businesses and business models—can and should be changed until they are primed to generate explosive reactions from the first people who see them. In other words, the best marketing decision you can make is to have a product or business that fulfills a real and compelling need for a real and defined group of people—no matter how much tweaking and refining this takes...Some companies like Airbnb and Instragram spend a long time trying new iterations until they achieve what growth hackers call Product Market Fit (PMF); others find it right away. The end goal is the same, however, and it’s to have the product and its customers in perfect sync with each other. Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, explains that the best way to get to Product Market Fit is by starting with a “minimum viable product” and improving it based on feedback—as opposed to what most of us do, which is to try to launch publicly with what we think is our final, perfected product...marketers need to contribute to this process. Isolating who your customers are, figuring out their needs, designing a product that will blow their minds—these are marketing decisions, not just development and design choices.

The imperative is clear: stop sitting on your hands and start getting them dirty.
business_models  coding  data_driven  delighting_customers  experimentation  good_enough  growth  growth_hacking  hacks  iterations  lean  marketing  minimum_viable_products  Paul_Graham  product_launches  product-market_fit  Ryan_Holiday  start_ups  visceral 
october 2014 by jerryking
Hiring is Obsolete
Want to start a startup? Get funded by Y Combinator.

May 2005
hiring  Paul_Graham  Y_Combinator 
april 2014 by jerryking
How do you identify/attract/hire good programmers to implement an idea if you yourself are not a coder?
Jeff Kesselman, 25 years in the video game ... (more)
If you are going to build a technical team, you need a techncial team builder. Which is to say CTO. Thats a key hire and the one you should b...
CTO  Quora  Paul_Graham  software_developers  software_development  hiring 
april 2014 by jerryking
Great Hackers
(Charles Waud & WaudWare. Can Waudware develop on a different platform, enabling 3rd parties to develop for it? Would that make PICs more commercially appealing?)

There's no controversy about which idea is most controversial: the suggestion that variation in wealth might not be as big a problem as we think.

I didn't say in the book that variation in wealth was in itself a good thing. I said in some situations it might be a sign of good things. [JCK: that is,....it might be a "signal"] A throbbing headache is not a good thing, but it can be a sign of a good thing-- for example, that you're recovering consciousness after being hit on the head.

Variation in wealth can be a sign of variation in productivity. (In a society of one, they're identical.) And that is almost certainly a good thing: if your society has no variation in productivity, it's probably not because everyone is Thomas Edison. It's probably because you have no Thomas Edisons.

In a low-tech society you don't see much variation in productivity....In programming, as in many fields, the hard part isn't solving problems, but deciding what problems to solve. Imagination is hard to measure, but in practice it dominates the kind of productivity that's measured in lines of code.

Productivity varies in any field, but there are few in which it varies so much (as software development)..This is an area where managers can make a difference. Like a parent saying to a child, I bet you can't clean up your whole room in ten minutes, a good manager can sometimes redefine a problem as a more interesting one.
coding  discernment  hackers  imagination  income_distribution  income_inequality  Paul_Graham  productivity  productivity_payoffs  programming  signals  software_developers  software_development  Thomas_Edison  variations  WaudWare  worthwhile_problems 
february 2014 by jerryking
Do Things that Don't Scale
July 2013 | Paul Graham

The question to ask about an early stage startup is not "is this company taking over the world?" but "how big could this company get if the founders did the right things?" And the right things often seem both laborious and inconsequential at the time.
advice  start_ups  Y_Combinator  Paul_Graham  scaling  recruiting  experience  management_consulting  barriers_to_entry  product_launches  partnerships  customer_acquisition  user_growth  Steve_Jobs  unscalability  founders  questions 
november 2013 by jerryking
THE NEXT BILLION-DOLLAR IDEA
September 27, 2013 | Report on Business Magazine | Alec Scott.
The Toronto-Waterloo corridor is one of the top places in the world to start a tech business. We meet some of the geniuses, the mentors and the money men in search of the next big thing
Toronto  Ryerson  OMERS  venture_capital  vc  start_ups  Vidyard  Paul_Graham  Y_Combinator  Keek  serial_entrepreneur  Kitchener-Waterloo  uWaterloo  entrepreneur 
september 2013 by jerryking
How to Make Wealth
How to Make Wealth

Want to start a startup? Get funded by Y Combinator.

May 2004
wealth_creation  howto  Y_Combinator  Paul_Graham 
june 2013 by jerryking
Value of big data depends on context
According to Hayek, it is not only localised and dispersed knowledge, but also tacit knowledge that is crucial for the functioning of the market system. Often, useful localised knowledge is tacit. By definition, tacit knowledge cannot be articulated and mechanically transferred to other individuals.[See Paul Graham on doing things that don't scale] Companies and governments have become more successful in collecting large volumes of data but it is nearly impossible to capture useful tacit knowledge by these data collection methods.

Furthermore, the value of big data is not about the volume and the amount of collected data but it depends on our ability to understand and interpret the data. As human faculties of interpretation and understanding differ greatly, the value of big data is subjective and dependent on particular context. Ironically, the skillful use of big data may require tacit knowledge.
data_collection  letters_to_the_editor  massive_data_sets  Friedrich_Hayek  tacit_data  contextual  sense-making  interpretation  tacit_knowledge  valuations  Paul_Graham  unscalability 
february 2013 by jerryking
Some Fear a Glut in Tech 'Incubators' - WSJ.com
DECEMBER 1, 2011
Some Fear a Glut in Tech 'Incubators'
By JESSICA E VASCELLARO
incubators  Max_Levchin  Paul_Graham  Y_Combinator  Jessica_E._Vascellaro 
december 2011 by jerryking
The New Establishment 2011 - Paul Graham | Business
| Vanity Fair | Graham mass-produces start-ups, funding between 40 and 60 ideas every six months in a single blast. Since its founding, in 2009, Y Combinator has helped 313 companies get off the ground.
Paul_Graham  Y_Combinator  Airbnb  Dropbox  Justin.tv  Loopt  Reddit  Scribd 
november 2011 by jerryking
How to Be an Angel Investor
Mar. 2009 | Paul Graham...Don't worry about the details of deal
terms, esp. when starting to angel invest. You win at angel investing
by investing in the right start-ups...When negotiating terms with a
start-up, there are 2 numbers to care about: (1) how much $ you're
putting in, and (2), the valuation of the company which determines how
much stock you get...The 2nd component to angel investing is how much
you're expected to help the start-up--this can range from simply being a
source of money, or becoming a de facto employee of the company.
Clarify your role in advance....Picking Winners..."Pick the start-ups
that will make something people want." ..." How do you do that? Angels
have to pick start-ups before they've got a hit—either because they've
made something great but users don't realize it yet, (e.g.Google ), or
because they're still iterations away from the big hit, (e.g Paypal).
Angel investors must be good judges of potential...fund people who are
relentlessly resourceful.
howto  angels  Paul_Graham  investors  investing  start_ups  JCK  Michael_McDerment 
december 2010 by jerryking
The Disruptor In The Valley
11.08.10 | Forbes.com | Christopher Steiner,
Paul_Graham  Y_Combinator 
october 2010 by jerryking
Four Lessons from Y-Combinator's Fresh Approach to Innovation
June 12, 2009 | HarvardBusiness.org | by Scott Anthony.
1. You can do a lot for a little.
2. Tight windows enable "good enough" design.
3. Business plans are nice, not necessary.
4. Failure is an option.
Also: Their main motto is (that startups should) "make something people
want". Another prominent theme in their approach is its
hacker-centricity.
Scott_Anthony  innovation  decision_making  lessons_learned  Paul_Graham  Y_Combinator  frugality  demand-driven  constraints  failure  design  customer-driven  insights  market_windows  good_enough 
october 2009 by jerryking
How Hard Could It Be?: Start-up Static | Printer-friendly version
March 2009| Inc. Magazine | Joel Spolsky

A new business is like a shortwave radio. You have to fiddle patiently with all the dials until you get the reception you want.
morale_management  failure  start_ups  Paul_Graham  new_businesses  pattern_recognition  tinkering  Joel_Spolsky  Y_Combinator  experimentation  trial_&_error 
april 2009 by jerryking
How to spot the next big thing
November 20, 2007| New Scientist Technology Blog | Justin Mullins.

How to spot the next big opportunity? "Look for things that seem evil or broken or stupid," said Paul Graham from Silicon Valley investment firm Y Combinator, which funds early stage start-ups. Because when you find them, there is sure to be an opportunity for a start-up to correct the problem. He points to the music industry. "It seems kind of evil that they're suing a bunch of 12-year olds," says Graham. "But it's also an opportunity for start-ups."
idea_generation  ideas  start_ups  opportunities  Paul_Graham  pain_points  Y_Combinator 
april 2009 by jerryking

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