• Chile’s Grand Innovation Experiment

    Regions all over the world have spent millions—sometimes billions—of dollars trying to create their own Silicon Valley. They drank the same Kool-Aid and used the same recipe: start with a research university; build a fancy tech park next it; give tax breaks to chosen companies to locate in the park; attract venture capital by offering matching investments; and watch the magic… Read More

  • How China’s Entrepreneurs Are Helping It Win

    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… Read More

  • Are You A Pirate?

    Are You A Pirate?

    I read blog posts by Don Dodge and Glenn Kelman today about people jumping from Google to Facebook and it got me thinking about entrepreneurs. 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… Read More

  • The Goldmine Of Opportunities In Gov 2.0

    The Goldmine Of Opportunities In Gov 2.0

    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

  • Japan: To Fix Your Economy, Honor Your Failed Entrepreneurs

    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… Read More

  • Men and Women Entrepreneurs: Not That Different

    Men and Women Entrepreneurs: Not That Different

    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… Read More

  • Should Entrepreneurs Bet It All On The Billion Dollar Exit, Or Cash Out Small?

    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… Read More

  • Students: You Are Probably Not Mark Zuckerberg, So Stay In School

    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… Read More

  • Can Russia Build A Silicon Valley?

    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… Read More

  • Tech Industry Managers: Little Men in Big Shoes?

    Tech Industry Managers: Little Men in Big Shoes?

    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

  • Silicon Valley’s Dark Secret: It’s All About Age

    Silicon Valley’s Dark Secret: It’s All About Age

    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. Read More

  • Chop-Shop Workers and Bootstrappers: Chile Really Wants You

    Chop-Shop Workers and Bootstrappers: Chile Really Wants You

    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… Read More

  • Startups Or Behemoths: Which Are We Going To Bet On?

    Startups Or Behemoths: Which Are We Going To Bet On?

    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… Read More

  • Entrepreneur: You’re No Steve Jobs, So Look Before You Leap

    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… Read More

  • Dear Mr. President: Immigration Reform Won’t Be Enough To Stop The Brain Drain

    Dear Mr. President: Immigration Reform Won’t Be Enough To Stop The Brain Drain

    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… Read More

  • Can Meena Build An Indian Google?

    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… Read More

  • Is Entrepreneurship Just About the Exit?

    Is Entrepreneurship Just About the Exit?

    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… Read More

  • Startups: Poverty is Underrated. Be Glad That You’re Not Rich

    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… Read More

  • Fixing Societal Problems: It Starts With Mom and Dad

    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… Read More

  • Is an MBA a Plus or a Minus in the Startup World?

    A long time ago, I had to make a really tough choice: invest in an MBA from New York University, or make do with my bachelors. I was newly married, had a child on the way, and didn’t have much in savings. The degree would set me back tens of thousands of dollars and take years to complete—especially if I did it part time. And I couldn’t imagine doing anything but… Read More