The recent articles proclaiming that 25 is the peak age for entrepreneurship deserve a considered and factual response. The demographic and racial profiling that has plagued venture capital and tech entrepreneurship has a… → Read More
Over the last five years, I have taught more than 300 really smart students. One of the smartest, at the Masters of Engineering Management at Duke University, was Viva Leigh Miller, a black woman. She had the ambition of moving to Silicon Valley after she graduated last year. I expected she would become a hotshot CEO.
But Viva couldn’t get a job in the Valley—despite introductions that I gave… → Read More
After having been a tech executive for many years, I needed to take a break, and I wanted to give back to society. Duke University engineering dean Kristina Johnson gave me a great spiel about how the school’s Masters of Engineering Management program churns out great engineers, and how engineers solve the world’s problems. She said that I could make a big impact by teaching engineering… → Read More
As TechCrunch readers know by now, I speak my mind and don’t shy away from controversy. I am even more provocative when I talk to students. My goal is to make them think outside the box. I encourage students not only to challenge authority, but also to challenge me. I tell them that with my research on globalization, entrepreneurship, and U.S. competitiveness, I am learning as I go; no one has… → Read More
Everyone in the tech world talks about business models. But I’ll bet that if you quizzed a random sample of these people, you’d find that they really don’t know what a business model is. I did just that with my students at UC-Berkeley. Most raised their hands, and MBA student Blake Brundidge’s attempt to answer the question was a valiant one—but none of them really had a clue. The only… → Read More
Bob Compton and I finally have something to agree about.
The Washington, D.C.–based venture capitalist produced a provocative documentary, 2 Million Minutes, which tracked six students—two each in the U.S., India, and China—during their senior year of high school. It showed the Indian and Chinese students slogging to learn mathematics and science, and the Americans partying and playing… → Read More
Most people have an aversion to risk, my college economics professor told me. Which means they have to be rewarded to take on that risk. The higher the risk, the higher the possible payout has to be for people to jump.
We make risk/reward decisions every… → Read More
Seeing a need to help 60 million Americans manage their $4 trillion dollars in retirement accounts, Mike and Ryan Alfred launched BrightScope in 2008. They headed to Washington, DC, to obtain electronic data on 401K plans from the Department of Labor. They assumed that since every employer is required to provide the government with this information, it would be readily available to any… → Read More
After visiting Okinawa, Japan, and meeting with global experts on innovation, I’ve come to the conclusion that Silicon Valley’s greatest advantage isn’t its diversity; it is the fact that it accepts and glorifies failure. Like many other countries, Japan has tried replicating Silicon Valley. It built fancy tech parks, provided subsidies for R&D, and even created a magnificent new … → Read More
In any debate, it is easy to revert to anecdote and highlight examples that exemplify one point of view. Recent TechCrunch posts about women in tech have done just that. The latest of these claimed that women don’t want to run startups, because they’d rather have children. I can understand why: TechCrunch and its editors focus on the Silicon Valley/Web 2.0 world. In this world, most… → Read More
One of the most interesting discussions at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference was the debate between the “super angels” and VCs. No, I’m not referring to “AngelGate” or the question of which investor group squeezes entrepreneurs the most. Despite what they say, all investors are in the game for personal financial gain; it’s not about nurturing entrepreneurs or doing good for the world. → Read More
Instead of another boring lecture, last week my students at UC-Berkeley got quite a treat: a lively discussion with TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington. I once described Mike as a cross between Oprah Winfrey and Howard Stern; so I was ready for a little controversy. But he ended up lighting such a big fire, that I’ve been bombarded with questions from students about their education and careers. → Read More
A few months ago, I wrote about why I believed that Russia’s planned “science city” was destined for failure, in my BusinessWeek column. I predicted it would follow the path of the hundreds of cluster development projects before it. Political leaders would hold press conferences to claim credit for advancing science and technology; management consultants would earn hefty fees; real-estate… → Read More
When I was ready to transition from computer programmer to project manager, my employer, Xerox Corporation, sent me to its huge training center in Leesburg, Virginia. Over two weeks, the people there taught me some of the skills I needed in order to succeed in my new role: managing projects, motivating people, complying with employment regulations, and preparing status reports and presentations. → Read More
An interesting paradox in the technology world is that there is both a shortage and a surplus of engineers in the United States. Talk to those working at any Silicon Valley company, and they will tell you how hard it is to find qualified talent. But listen to the heart-wrenching stories of unemployed engineers, and you will realize that there are tens of thousands who can’t get jobs. What… → Read More
Silicon Valley’s vitality depends on a constant influx of bright people who challenge its inhabitants to work harder and think smarter. And, as I noted in my last post, America’s economy depends on startups to create jobs and innovation. Skilled immigrants have provided both. So, given the miserable state of the economy, we should be laying out the welcome mat for the world’s best and… → Read More
I knew I would be touching a raw nerve with my last two posts, on patents. But I was really surprised at the divergence of opinion. Entrepreneurs overwhelmingly supported my stance that software patents hamper innovation and need to be abolished, but friends in Microsoft, IBM, and Google were outraged at my recommendation. The big companies’ executives argued that abolishing patents would hurt… → Read More
I doubt that Steve Jobs has ever asked Apple customers what type of products they want, or that he cares about what they need. Jobs believed that if he developed a mobile phone that plays music and surfs the web, he could create both the want and need. He was right: his iPhone changed the industry and started a mini technology revolution.
Most of the entrepreneurs I know fancy themselves to be… → Read More
In a speech at the American University last Thursday, President Obama highlighted the incredible economic rewards that America has gained from its immigrants. He spoke of new waves of immigrants—from places like Ireland, Italy, Poland, and China—challenging the generations before them, and consequently being subjected to “rank discrimination and ugly stereotypes”. Yet they kept coming to… → Read More
Meena wants to become a computer engineer. She believes that if she works hard enough, she can build her own “big business”—maybe a Google. So she is determined to complete her schooling and earn an engineering degree. Young girls like Meena, just 16 years old but with the ambition and confidence to enter the tech world, are a rare commodity even in Silicon Valley; but Meena lives in a slum… → Read More
David Park and Eric Bahn are earning more at their startup, called Beat The GMAT, than they ever did in the corporate world. Every penny of profit from the business goes directly into their bank accounts. They enjoy being their own bosses; have become experts in sales, marketing, customer support, computer programming and graphic design; feel good about helping students gain admission to business… → Read More
Raising millions of dollars from VCs is still the tech entrepreneurs’ dream. Entrepreneurs believe that a hoard of cash in the bank will give them the luxury of developing better products, marketing the heck out of them, and reaping the rewards with big sales and an eventual IPO. But more often than not, the money is a curse. When a company is running on a tight budget, it will usually perform… → Read More
I am quite used to controversy—unsurprisingly, given the topics that I have been exploring with my academic research. But what has really been a surprise is the hornet’s nest that I seem to have stirred up with my two TechCrunch posts and BusinessWeek column on the dearth of women entrepreneurs. At every event I’ve been to recently, women have come up to me to say thanks for raising… → Read More