In Silicon Valley, failure has been democratized. You don’t need a lot of money to fail. Nor do you need any previous experience. Take, for example, Brian Wong and Roger Dickey – two young Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who, in spite of their youth, are already steeped in failure. Wong, who was the youngest person ever to receive venture capital funding and is now the CEO of the mobile rewards network Kiip, once worked at Digg – the paragon of a failed Silicon Valley technology start-up. While Dickey managed to build 16 sixteen (yes, that’s SIXTEEN) failed Facebook apps before getting lucky with Mafia Wars.
When I spoke to Wong and Dickey earlier this week at FailCon, they both embraced the idea of failure. It’s all about “mental resilience”, they told me. Every setback is a “learning opportunity”, they said, and they described failure as “the ultimate rebirth”. Great failures of the past include Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers, they explained, while Groupon’s Andrew Mason and Zynga’s Mark Pincus are today’s heroic failures, guys who failed so fast and frequently that in the end that had to get something right.
This is the fourth and final interview from the excellent FailCon event (many thanks to the BAMM.TV crew for filming the interviews). Check out my previous conversations about failure with Vinod Khosla, MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe and Wavepoint Ventures GM Peter Gardner.