Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Startup as a commodity and Hyperconvergence

The Startup, as we know it, has become a commodity.

Silicon XXX name is a commodity

Silicon Valley inspired me-too's all over the the world. See in the Appendix 1 the Wikipedia's list of places with the word "Silicon" in their name
Startup is now taught in high schools. The Startup Manual and Lean Startup methods on how to start a business, are getting as popular as soccer. They teach how to start a business the same way as teaching Bar-Mitzvah boys how to read the Torah.

The hands-on  incubators like Y Combinator, Techstarts, have a business model similar  elite kindergartens, They are all restricted to young, carefully pre-selected budding "avatars of success", with a median age of 23.

Statups as a commodity

A quote from an interview that X-rays and extracts the essence without offending - The New Yorker talks to Mark Andreessen, of Andreessen Horowitz (aka a16z).
Each year, three thousand startups approach a16z with a “warm intro” from someone the firm knows. A16z invests in fifteen. Of those, at least ten will fold, three or four will prosper, and one might soar to be worth more than a billion dollars—a “unicorn,” in the local parlance. With great luck, once a decade that unicorn will become a Google or a Facebook and return the V.C.’s money a thousand times over: the storied 1,000x. There are eight hundred and three V.C. firms in the U.S., and last year they spent forty-eight billion dollars chasing that dream.
803 US Venture Capital firms spent 48 billion dollars investment, played games with a mere 0.03% of US GDP .

The new elite: kindergarten entrepreneurs

To have access to a top VC firm, you need a recommendation. You can't drop in from the street, like 20 years ago. Then you have 1 in 200 chances to get funded. If you are older than 30, your chances are diminished and if you are older than 40, chances are zero. Just read what Ben Horowitz says on page 175 of his book

Among incubators  Y Combinator is  most successful, However  nearly 75% of the total value of nearly 500 companies they have funded comes from two big players (Dropbox and Airbnb).

Some incubators created one the most conceited and arrogant breed of young entrepreneurs.  They are taught that a successful startup company is the elixir of happiness and they are bred "scientifically"  to be forever fearless winners, and immune  to the vicissitudes and perils in real life roller-coasters. It sounds like Nietzsche Übermensch as a goal for humanity to perfect itself

They never smashed their heads against a wall.

Real life entrepreneurs

Real life is different, Every big winner experiences defeats, as part of  the creative process

The next mind blowing success investments (like Google)  will come from non-conformists and underdogs, not from incubators. Whatsapp is not from an incubator. The founder is a Ukraine immigrant graduated from San Jose University, not Stanford, They faced rejection and his family subsisted on food stamps for a while.

The divorce from Enterprise needs.

The entire system of incubators has not a clue what enterprises and the real world needs. They believe people don't know what they want, they do. They oftern quote Steve Jobs. Yet no one is clone of Steve Jobs and there  are many would-be Steve Jobs who failed and we will never hear of them.

After all, the economy of United States and Europe is more than just ordering a taxi or reserving a bed and breakfast. The biggest buyers in the world are still large corporations who need tools and reasons to transform themselves in new model factory model. Products like Docker and DevOps orchestration are brilliant, but how the fledgling startup and open source movements can sell what they developed? To whom? How? 

Perhaps ignoring (or not knowing) what clients need, is a necessary freedom to discover things no one thought possible before. But what  happens after people say:  "Wow: we discovered how to revolutionize IT?  Now what?

Enterprises and large companies

They have a major, major role to play. Julie Zhuo product design director @ Facebook essays from The Year of the Looking Glass are about (1) design, (2) building products, and (3) observing life.

The latter bullet #3 "observing life" is not for commodity entrepreneurs starting ephemeral companies with built-in layoffs at the end.

Enterprises's critics claim there are too many people involved in decision-making and  one no longer has context on everything that’s going on. On the other hand, they’re having impact on millions of people,  They invests in ambitious missions or goals because large multinationals have the resources to do so.

They need people who are team players, will raise the bar in some direction, They also need people who are strong communicators who are good at aligning and connecting groups

In other words, they need people with very different skills from what a frugal startup needs, -  often managed with iron fist by an Übermensch  narcissistic founder.

"Big companies didn’t get to where they are without creating some kind of value in the world for people and take more time to try and do things right for the long-term."  says Julie

Human beings, seek a re-instated stability in our society, with career path  and quality lives. A few optimized multi-nationals can make more GDP contributions in all countries they operate than tens of thousands of mildly successful startups.

Not everyone is younger than 30. Not everyone  has a personality adaptable to a startup, yet there are millions of people with invaluable talents to bring out social wealth.

What is Hyperconvergence?

Under the converged infrastructure approach, a vendor provides a preconfigured bundle of hardware and software in a single chassis with the goal of minimizing compatibility issues and simplifying management.

A hyper-converged system differs from a converged system in its tighter integration of the software components, which may expand beyond compute, storage, networking and virtualization the stack, ready for use right out of the box.

Who can create, sell profitable , support  and transform other enterprises to new levels of efficiencies using hyperconvergence? The large companies and the startup companies form a new symbiosis 

The new synergy

Large company and startup companies can make each other prosperous. The classic model of acquiring startup companies as an entrance to heaven does not work always.

We enter the era of hyperconvergence. A complicated word, for a brilliant concept.

Taking the Hype out of Hyperconvergence. The market demand for simplified, work-out-of-the-box, pre-integrated solutions have seemingly everyone hopping on the hyperconvergence bandwagon
More about it in a future blog.

Appendix 1: List of places with "Silicon" in the name


Silicon Cape — Cape Town, South Africa
Silicon Lagoon — Lagos, Nigeria
Silicon Savannah — Nairobi, Kenya


Bit Valley — Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan (a pun on Shibuya's literal translation of "Bitter Valley")
Silicon Peninsula — Dalian, China
Silicon Gulf — Davao City, Philippines
Silicon Valley of China — Zhongguancun, Haidian District, Beijing, People's Republic of China (PRC)
Silicon Valley of India (sometimes referred to as Silicon Plateau) — Bangalore
Silicon Valley of South Korea — New Songdo City, Incheon
Silicon Valley of Indonesia — Bandung, Indonesia
Silicon Valley of Taiwan — Hsinchu, Taiwan
Silicon Goli — Dhaka, Bangladesh


Silicon Mallee — Adelaide, Australia (Mallee, an Australian aboriginal word for the land area around Adelaide covered by low, scrubby dwarf eucalyptus 'mallee' vegetation
Silicon Welly — Wellington in New Zealand
Silicon St, Sydney An inner city colloquial district including Ultimo/Pyrmont along Harris St spanning 10sqkms from UTS to Google including Fishburners


SiliconFjord - Oslofjord-region
Kista (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈɕiːsta], Silicon Valley of Sweden
Health Valley — The Netherlands
Food Valley — The Netherlands
Etna Valley – Catania, Italy
Russian Silicon Valley:
Skolkovo innovation center
Zelenograd, Moscow
Silicon Docks — Dublin, Ireland
Silicon Sentier — Paris, France
Silicon Sloboda — Moscow, Russia
Silicon Taiga — Akademgorodok, Russia
Ticino Valley - Switzerland, technology cluster in the Lugano Area
Silicon Wadi – Haifa, Tel Aviv, Israel


BioCon Valley - Mecklenburg and Western Pomerania
CFK Valley – Stade, Lower Saxony
Isar Valley - Munich, Bavaria
IT-Cluster Rhine-Main-Neckar / IT Valley - Rhine-Main-Neckar region
Measurement Valley – Göttingen, Lower Saxony
Medical Valley – Erlangen region, Bavaria
Silicon Allee (English: Silicon Avenue) — Berlin (incl. WISTA)
Silicon Saxony — Dresden, Saxony, Elbe river valley around the city
Silicon Woods – Kaiserslautern, Rhineland-Palatinate
Solar Valley – Thalheim, Saxony-Anhalt

United Kingdom

Cwm Silicon — Newport, Wales
Silicon Canal — Birmingham, England — the area along the Digbeth Branch Canal from Aston Science Park, through Millennium Point to Digbeth.
Silicon Corridor — the M4 corridor
Silicon Dock — Belfast
Silicon Fen — Cambridge, England[1]
Silicon Glen — Central Belt, Scotland
Silicon Walk — Edinburgh, Scotland
Silicon Gorge — Bristol, England
Silicon Alley — Pink Lane, Newcastle Upon Tyne, England
Silicon Mall — London, England — the area between Pall Mall and Victoria in London
Silicon Mill — Manchester and North West England[2]
Silicon Roundabout — the area around Old Street Roundabout in London
Silicon Pier — Brighton, England
Silicon Shipyard — Newcastle upon Tyne, Gateshead, Middlesbrough
Silicon Spa — Leamington Spa, Warwickshire [3]
Silicon Forest — Newark, Nottinghamshire — Silicon Forest consists of various businesses from in and around the Newark and Sherwood area that specialise in technology and innovation.
Silicon Beach - Bournemouth, England

Middle East

Dubai Silicon Oasis — Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Silicon Wadi — The coastal plain of Israel, stretching from Haifa to Tel Aviv and Rehovot and expanding inland to Jerusalem

South America

Sapiens Parque — Florianopolis, Brazil
Brazilian Silicon Valley — Campinas, Brazil
Lima Valley — Lima, Peru

North America

Silicon Valley of the North - Ontario Highway 401 between Toronto and Waterloo[4]
Silicon Valley North — Ottawa, Canada, though questionable since the 2009 bankruptcy of Nortel and the 2008 pull-out of Dell's call centre[5]
Silicon Vineyard — Okanagan Valley, Canada
Mexican Silicon Valley/Silicon Valley South — Jalisco, Mexico
Silicon Border — Mexicali, Mexico

United States

Silicon Alley — A portion of Lower Manhattan in New York City, more specifically Broadway, the Flatiron District, TriBeCa and SoHo
Silicon Anchor — Norfolk, Va–Virginia Beach metropolitan area
Silicon Bayou — New Orleans, Louisiana
Silicon Beach — Santa Monica, California and the Westside area of the Los Angeles metro, more specifically Culver City, Venice Beach, Westwood, Manhattan Beach, Malibu, Playa del Rey, and Marina del Rey; also used to refer to the San Diego area in the name of the 1980s software developer Silicon Beach Software
Silicon Bridge — DUMBO, Brooklyn, New York
Silicon Canal — The area of Seattle, Washington along the Fremont Cut.
Silicon Coast — Orange County, California
Silicon Desert — Chandler, Arizona
Silicon Forest — Portland, Oregon
Silicon Harbor — Charleston, South Carolina
Silicon Hill — Washington, DC
Silicon Hills — Austin, Texas
Silicon Mountain — Front Range Urban Corridor, Colorado (Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs)
Silicon Prairie
Dallas-Fort Worth Silicon Prairie — Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Texas
Illinois Silicon Prairie — Chicago and Urbana-Champaign
Midwest Silicon Prairie — Omaha, Des Moines, Kansas City
Wyoming Silicon Prairie, also called the "Silicon Range" — Jackson Hole
Silicon Sandbar — Cape Cod, Massachusetts[citation needed]
Silicon Shire — Eugene, Oregon
Silicon Shore — Santa Barbara, California
Silicon Slopes — Utah, concentrated in the Wasatch Front
Silicon Snowfield — Rochester, New York
Silicon Surf — Santa Cruz, California
Silicon Swamp — Gainesville, Florida southwest toward Tampa, headquarters of Grooveshark and many other technology companies.
Silicon Valley — San Jose, California (the original "Silicon" namesake)
Silicon Valley of the Sierras — Nevada County, California
Philicon Valley — Area close to Philadelphia, in the suburbs of Valley Forge and Wayne, also known as "Silicon Valley Forge"[6]
Cyber District — Area of Boston between Summer and Congress Streets, near Fort Point Channel, has organized itself as the "CyberDistrict"[6]
Silicotton Valley — Huntsville, Alabama
Silicon Valley of South Florida

Saturday, May 02, 2015

The DNA of an Organization

The DNA of customer experience

In biology, a molecule called deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), contains the biological instructions that make each species unique. DNA, along with the instructions it contains, is passed from adult organisms to their offspring during reproduction.

The DNA is fascinating as a metaphor for what the true ourselves are

There is a 2008 book, The DNA of Customer Experience: How Emotions Drive Value   by Colin Shaw. Following the success of this book, Colin founded a company, Beyond Philosophy, now a leading Customer Experience consultancy.

Customer Experience is a subset of User Experience, (like Usability design). But in 2008, these distinctions were not clear and the book was a hit and changed the life and career of its author.

He preached in his slides about 2011 Global Customer Experience Management Survey that over 50% from all life experiences are emotions and these emotions drive primarily our behavior. In business as in our personal life, if we deal with customer experiences without considering emotions, we are not doing our job

In other words, we are not professional.

What is a professional?

In 2006, two years before Colin Shaw published his book, I met  Dr. Lee Shulman, the President of The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. These are my notes from this meeting.
 A professional is someone who does not simply know about something. A professional does something with what she knows. She is  judged  by what she produces as a result of that knowledge. This means understanding the individuals who will both need and afford the product. The most widely used word is “market”. The market is an impersonal abstraction. A market is made of people, who are not an amorphous mass that swallows hamburgers and Barbie dolls.
Carl Jung,  is a professional, because his psychological theory worked in practice. As I wrote elsewhere
We think we know ourselves, but we don't. We replace - in most of us - our individual life (which is the only real life) with what our society wants us to be and we are deprived of moral decisions.
The biggest challenge is how to differentiate ourselves from the society doctrine. But when we do this, we become the slaves of our own fictions, Because we think we know ourselves, but we don't.
He said this in 1950, The Meyer Briggs test originates from Carl Jung teachings. We take the tests and discover what careers will bring us biggest satisfaction. We are surprised how well the test works. Because we do not know ourselves, we think we do.

If you never had a Meyer Briggs test, take one now

The DNA of a company

Are we capable to produce an equivalent corporate Meyer-Briggs-like test to determine the DNA of company?

Lets assume such a test exists. It will be simply a series of questions, requiring answers of either Yes or No. 

I say nothing new. There are thousands of book and articles on how to sell that assume that customers are 100% rational. There are other thousands of books and articles that list formulas on how to make someone who initially does not want  what we sell, ends up buying it.

Success is not made from formulas. Success is based on insights and empathy.  That why these manipulative techniques don't work any more.

There is classical book that endures the years called: How to win Friends and Influence People. You can read a summary on line. It is all about insights and common sense when dealing with people.

Such new business book waits to be written. It is not about such cliche questions as "what keeps executives awake at night". It is about the genuine desire in us, human beings,  to feel important. It is not only about C-level executive feel, but what the most  rank and file talented people feel. The younger people may read Umair Haque The Betterness Manifesto   
"You’re worth something. Stop giving your talent away to organizations that misallocate it, underutilize it, and possibly even abuse it. If you’re doing something meaningless, quit. "
The DNA of a company is the sum of the feelings of many people in the organization, in addition to the HBDI testing (Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument).  As Meyer Briggs tests shows, we can discover what the company does best and what it can do much better without asking even one direct question

Blogger David Shed in his What Is Your Company DNA? writes:
Would an organization of all analytical and organized leaders effectively focus on customers over the long term?
Would an organization of all creative or all inter-personal types effectively execute on all the new ideas and contacts that they come up with?
At the risk of gross over-simplification, the answer is: No!
This mix of thinking style, personality and preferences determines the DNA of the company. This DNA then determines the company’s approach to the market and the company culture.

 DNA Values

This summary comes from DNA Behaviour 
The DNA Behavior International Company Values are core to every aspect of our business and the relationships with our clients. We are committed to:
Great relationships, know your customer, business performance, personal development
1. Investing in and Building Great Relationships
2. Living as Individuals and as a Company With Meaning and Purpose
3. Providing Education, Wisdom and Insight
4. Reliable and Trustworthy Execution
5. Fairness and Transparency
6. Delivering Innovative Solution
This is the coolest I read so far. Will continue in part 2

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