Cambridge and the new economy. #1
Umair Haque: writes….. “The centuries-old institutions of orthodox capitalism cannot support the transition to a hyperconnected global economy. They are increasingly unable to allocate capital efficiently, much less grow it productively. And so what we are seeing nothing less than the wholesale deconstruction of the global financial and economic system.
Who’s going to reconstruct it? We are. By bringing new DNA to a table packed with crony capitalists, CEOs more concerned about their cash-outs than the companies they captain, and agitpropagandists thinly disguised as so-called arbitrageurs.”
I have a question for Cambridge (London, Oxford & Edinburgh etc. will come later): Do we have any companies here who aspire to be these new hyper-connected companies, creating the so called new economy. Which are the best examples we have? Do we have the innovative software umph and talent to build them and if not to at least use the new tools?
Is hard IP as we are so appropriately proud in this town, enough – or is there a risk of becoming irrelevant or will the new economy help us scale our companies in a way we have never before been able to.
The call to arms above is the “We are” hands up if you are part of the “We”!
It seems appropriate to start this post from my iPhone as the subject is about agility. Chet Richards has written an excellent book called “certain to win” which delves in to military strategy and extracts a compelling argument for wining being tied to agility. The core concept is that we should OBSERVE-ORIENTATE-DECIDE-ACT and we should do so fast and often. The book is dry but brilliant.
Now here’s the rub. I go to NYC Tech meet-up and see Jeff Jarvis promote his book “what would google do” and blow me if it’s not the same. P93 “life’s a beta” is all about launching beta software and getting early feedback. You can’t afford to wait. Google VP Marissa Meyer “the key is fast iteration”.Forget the Microsoft “late but perfect product” launch.. v1.0, v2.0 etc etc there’s just no time.
My OODA loop:
I think that open networks where skills/knowledge/work are exchanged, open ideas where new ideas are formulated/propositions-fleshed-out/direction set/company formed, open teams where the optimal set of people is found/assembled/engaged and organised; are all about get tied together to allow some very new and exciting company models – I want to be part of discussing and building these companies.
This is in stark contrast to Economist Umair Haque (HBR blog) who frighteningly realised that markets are shifting from inefficient/control/centralisation to efficient/open/de-centralised markets… “Competitive advantage (the thing we all learned about in business school) is fundementally about making markets work less efficiently.” “One catastrophically effective way to do this is to hide and obscure information – to gain bargaining power.”
We all see it! We all do it! Who isn’t challenged by the idea of open.
Perhaps for my industry (tech VC), that’s what Library house was trying to do for Venture Capital in Cambridge (at least in the early days). But what would the real Open VC model look like? p81 – “What business are you really in?” is becoming a really interesting question for all of us.
Do we as VC’s use these tough times to drive down deal prices?
This question came up yesterday at the CUE conference. Well I personally think that there is some re-setting of expectations going on in the market place but on the whole – people will remember how players behave during these tough times and this will shape the partnerships and trust relationships in the future. If your company is going to find it hard to show the progress required to raise funds at a good price… then as many are advising; think hard about how to avoid needing new funds and live to fight another funding day.
Cambridge needs some fizz, and i like my bubbles techie!
Last night I was speaking with Sitar of Doughty Hansen (after a truly excellent Cambridge University Entrepreneurs and CUTEC event) about drinktank and how it was succeeding where other networking venues failed. Well it’s kinda the same in Cambridge since Library House gave up their networking events some years ago now… so it’s time for some effort. We have BLN, CXO, CHASE, CUTEC, CUE, CfEL etc etc which all do great things. However, we need more OR we need different.
Just take a trip to NYC and visit their tech Meetup events and see the buzz they create and you’ll get my drift. It’s all about doing and Demos..
Way back, there was a cambridge computer club from which an enormous variety of innovation and start-up activity flowed.. Cambridge needs some of this back and I’d like to be part of it. Over the course of the coming weeks lets bring some of the energy already present together and in time create a whole lot more.
Welcome and thanks to Geoff for helping me setup this site.
I have the delight of dealing with some fabulous people, in life and in business. So should you wish, here’s a chance for you to see “who I am and what my opinions are”…
Having run the Amadeus Seed Funds for ten years, I now consulting to UK Government on matters VC whilst hatching a venture of my own. VC was a dream job and I met and worked with some inspiring and great people… but there was only one thing to leave it for and that was to start something of my own. I’ll keep you posted on progress.
I’m recently married to a lady winemaker and place/space visionary, we both have a passion for life and have moved to east London to sample it’s fizziness. Our philosophy – “Just in case this is the only life we get…. lets make the most of it!”.