Sunday, October 26, 2014

Rescale, a textbook Zero to One startup

I visited last week in San Francisco the offices of Rescale. About 30 people are cramped in tiny office in an old  nondescript two story building. The tiny parking lot asked for $50  and I kept driving to arrive late at my appointment after parking a mile away.

I chatted with Joris Poort, founder and CEO. He says he worked for four years at Boeing as a structural and software engineer on the 787 program, optimizing the design of the tail and wings. Yet this is not the end of the story. I read on the website,
Joris holds an M.B.A. with distinction from Harvard Business School, an M.S. in Aeronautics and Astronautics magna cum laude from the University of Washington, and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and minor in Applied Mathematics magna cum laude from the University of Michigan.
The is an unique combination of engineering skill, computer science and top business school thinking. This Harvard connection tells many things.

Ben Horowitz, in his book "The  Hard Thing about Hard Things"  tells about the Netscape recruiter who rejected him as an ideal candidate because he was not a graduate from Stanford or Harvard. It took a miracle to get the the job, directly from Marc Andreeseen, who was 22 at the time.

This was not Joris' challenge, as he was coding Rescale from home in San Francisco. before opening an office.

 Just look at the list of investors in Rescale . They are listed alphabetically, but see Richard BransonPeter ThielJeff Bezos, just a small sample from the 38 legendary names listed as investors  .
Rescale offers engineering simulations - traditionally an HPC domain  hard to use. Rescale has done a lot to make simulations easier to use - although there is lot more to be done in terms of ease of use in HPC.

Can Peter Thiel,  a  J.D. from Stanford Law School use Rescale? Probably not yet, not because Rescale hasn't done enough  to simplify the simulations, but because it is very hard  to simplify.

Sample Rescale Resources page

Yet Rescale is a major step in the right direction, clearly explained be Peter Thiel in his #1 entrepreneurship book on both Amazon and New York Times.  In the Atlantic, Derek Thompson writes "Peter Thiel's Zero to One Might Be the Best Business Book I've Read"

This is what Peter Thiel says right in the introduction.
the VERY MOMENT IN BUSINESS happens only once. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network . If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them. Of course, it’s easier to copy a model than to make something new. Doing what we already know how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But every time we create something new, we go from 0 to 1. The act of creation is singular, as is the moment of creation, and the result is something fresh and strange. Unless they invest in the difficult task of creating new things, American companies will fail in the future no matter how big their profits remain today. What happens when we’ve gained everything to be had from fine-tuning the old lines of business that we’ve inherited? Unlikely as it sounds, the answer threatens to be far worse than the crisis of 2008. Today’s “best practices” lead to dead ends; the best paths are new and untried.
He shows these pictures:

Peter Theil is credited to the idea of creating not only from nothing, but implicitely assuming highest risk portfolio startups. Yet Peter did not come out from a vacuum.

I learned from Professor Rashi Glazer from Berkeley -  Product Management Module III. Haas School Business, May 18, 2006 - that competition is everywhere, and the best way to neuter and minimize the competition is to select the highest risk, highest rewards portfolios. If we want to maintain the Silicon Valley leadership in the world, we must create companies no one else dares to start anywhere else in the world.

I summarized this ideas in My Product Management Manifesto entry in my blog. Quote:
The charts  above summarize what I learned in UC Berkeley seven years ago. Berkeley is always at least ten years ahead of other people time.  We have to liberate ourselves from the chains of numerical Return on Investment (ROI) and forecasts. Financial numerical decision makers do not work in Breakthroughs.
So Rescale is a textbook zero to one company. No one made money in HPC yet, Soon someone will makes tons of $. I think BoscoR falls in the same category

I will review the book in a future blog.
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