Monday, May 18, 2009

Nothing is a success until it has been canceled three times

Hi-Tech Ethos

I was chatting with one of the PARC colleagues about one of the projects that I am working on and he made the observation "nothing is a success until it has been canceled three times."

I think this captures the spirit of Silicon Valley as well as any that I have heard.

Let a thousand ideas bloom

In the old days, the rule of thumb about getting a new idea funded by a VC works something like this.

For every 10 ideas, 1 turns into a business plan
For every 10 business plan, 1 turns into a VC conversation
For every 10 VC conversations, 1 gets funded.

In other words, an idea has a 1 in 1,000 chance of getting funded. And, this is makes no prediction on if a funded idea has even a 50-50 chance of surviving beyond the first two years.

1 in 3 vs. 1 in 1,000

Given the 1 in 1,000 context, having something canceled/rejected three times is really not that big of a deal.

On the other hand, if you feel light-headed after reading this statement, you should not be in Silicon Valley.

I think the real question is how does PARC continue its longevity and relevance. Maybe I can convince somebody in the social science group to do an analysis.


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