The Parallel Entrepreneur

Fred Wilson writes about a NYTimes story on Idealab’s Bill Gross:

You hear about serial entrepreneurs all the time, people who start company after company. We love to back people like that and have done that five times already in our current fund.

But what about the parallel entrepreneur? The person who can’t do one thing at a time. They need to do multiple startups at the same time.

I think we are seeing more and more parallel entrepreneurship. It makes sense. Entrepreneurs realize that serial entrepreneurship means putting all their eggs in one basket. VCs get to leverage a portfolio effect and I think we’ll see more entrepreneurs try to do the same.

Web Development Trends

DevPapers has an interview with Anil Dash:

I think the common thread that binds all of the technologies that are gaining ground is a respect for user’s time and the pleasantness of their experience. Even back-end technologies or things that seem very esoteric eventually translate into a better end user experience. The way this is happening is by letting developers shift from features in web apps merely being *possible* to those features being straightforward enough that developers can spend time making them *fun*.

This is just like the shift to GUIs instead of command-line computer interaction. When computers had 4k of RAM, a graphical interface was a wasteful luxury. These days, we can visit sites where the favorites icon for bookmarking a site uses that much storage.

The biggest change for the positive is that things it’s easier to connect heterogeneous systems. I can simply connect almost any two applications across processor architectures, operating systems, database platforms, programming languages, and geographical distances, each of which used to be a big barrier in the past.

Consumer RSS Readers

Read/Write Web writes in the context of Pluck deciding to shut down: “Consumer RSS Readers are rapidly becoming commodities and will soon be next to worthless – the real business is white label and enterprise solutions. So Newsgator for example is well positioned. And Bloglines and Rojo both got out while the going was still good, via acquisitions. Although it must be said that niche RSS Readers will still have their place – for example FeedDemon (owned by Newsgator) will continue to get an adequate number of subscriptions…As a standalone company, it’s no longer possible.”

Next-Generation Devices

WirelessDuniya writes:

BenQs iF award-winning Black Box concept has designers all over the world going but that things been on my sketchpad for months!. Well, we could all have won an iF award guys. The pictures released by Benq show the device as a mobile phone, a calculator, a radio and a sort of ambient fishbowl. All good and useful things but nothing near what the device truly represents.

Instead of BenQs mobile phone-type idea, what were looking at, folks, is the next generation of mobile device. The one that will change literally everything for quite a lot of people. Every tech editor and gadget fan has been preoccupied for the last year with products like the fabled next generation video Ipod . The gorgeous Onyx concept from Pilotfish and Synaptics treads similar ground. It seems to be all about growing the screen in your pocket.

John Hagel on Social Networks

John Hagel writes: “Heres an early typology of social network sites that I sketched out after reading the article. Rather than categorize sites themselves it may be more useful to think about three primary functions of these sites connection, creation and collaboration. Individual sites can then be analyzed in terms of their relative emphasis on these three functions. It turns out that sites differ significantly in terms of their relative emphasis.”

TECH TALK: Good Books: Winning Decisions

Another book that I came across on decision-making is J. Edward Russo and Paul Schoemakers Winning Decisions. In their book, the focus is on getting it right the first time. From the books description:

Decision-making is a business skill which managers often take for granted in themselves and othersbut it’s not as easy as some might think. The authors, whose expertise has been sought out by over a hundred companies, including Arthur Andersen, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Unilever, contend that decision-making, like any other skill, must be developed and honed if it is to be used effectively. Winning Decisions offers step-by-step analyses of how people typically make decisions, and provides invaluable advice on how to improve your chances of getting your next big decision right the first time. The book is packed with worksheets, tools, questionnaires, case studies, and anecdotes analyzing major decisions made by organizations like British Airways, NASA, Shell Oil, and Pepsi. Some of the proven, straightforward techniques covered in Winning Decisions include how to:

  • Reframe issues to ensure that the real problem is being addressed
  • Improve the quality and quantity of your options
  • Convert expert yet conflicting opinions into useful insights
  • Make diversity of views and conflict work to your advantage
  • Foster efficient and effective group decision-making
  • Learn from past decisions–your own and those of others
  • Here is what Publishers Weekly wrote about the book (published in 2001):

    The coauthors of 1989’s Decision Traps offer a clear, straightforward explanation of how managers should perform one of their most basic tasks: making a decision. Russo, professor of marketing and behavior science at Cornell, and Shoemaker, research director of Wharton’s Mack Center for Technology and Innovation, break their method into four steps: framing decisions, i.e., factoring in difficulties like information overload and the “galloping rate of change,” and thereby determining which choices need to be addressed and which ones don’t; gathering real intelligence, not just information that will support internal biases; coming to conclusions, i.e., assessing how one’s company acts on the intelligence gathered; and learning from experience. The authors walk readers through each of the steps. Unlike many business books, this one is akin to a workbook, providing how-tos, case studies and worksheets so readers can put their ideas into play immediately. The authors highlight key concepts, and they even show an occasional humorous side. However, they stress that even improving the way one goes about making decisions won’t guarantee that they’ll be the right ones. Decisions still have to be executed successfully, and luck is always a factor. Still, with better decision-making skills, the odds are bound to go up.

    Why is decision-making so important? Id like to end with a quote from the books introduction: In our Information Age, the race will go not to the strong but to the cognitively swift.

    Tomorrow: Beautiful Evidence and More Than You Know

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