entrepreneurship

  • 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

  • Integrating Ethics Into The Core Of Your Startups: Why And How

    Integrating Ethics Into The Core Of Your Startups: Why And How


    When I came to the U.S. in 1980, I was young and naïve. I used to think that corruption and ethical lapses were just a third-world ill. Eventually, I became a tech CEO and learned the harsh realities of American business. Yes, standards are much higher, and breaches are punished, but the temptations are just the same here as they are in any other country. Ethical lapses (which are a form… Read More

  • Replicators, Innovators, and Bill Gates

    My last post triggered some interesting debates in the blogosphere about whether entrepreneurs were a product of nature or could be nurtured. It’s not black or white. People are a product of their upbringing and education. Average humans can achieve extraordinary feats when they really try. I’ll concede that, like some great athletes, some great entrepreneurs may have something… Read More

  • Can Entrepreneurs Be Made?

    Can Entrepreneurs Be Made?

    Silicon Valley investors often have a picture in their heads of the type of person who is worthy of funding: young, brash, stubborn, and arrogant. They believe that successful entrepreneurs come from entrepreneurial families and that they start their entrepreneurial journey by selling lemonade while in grade school. Angel investor and entrepreneur, Jason Calacanis said as much in his recent… Read More

  • Silicon Valley: You and Some of Your VC's have a Gender Problem

    “People in technology businesses are drawn to places known for diversity of thought and open-mindedness”, is what Professor Richard Florida concluded after studying the growth and success of 50 metropolitan areas in the U.S. The most successful regions were those with the most gays, bohemians, and immigrants. These groups flourish in Silicon Valley, and its diversity has… Read More

  • Will China Eat America's Lunch in Cleantech?

    In the State of the Union Address last Wednesday, President Obama said “the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy and America must be that nation.” At the same time, on the other coast, 75 clean energy investors, entrepreneurs, and researchers were debating whether the U.S. can gain this leadership position. They agreed that… Read More

  • Calling All Entrepreneurs: California Needs You

    In my last post, I discussed how the gap between the web and enterprise-computing worlds has narrowed. Some of the Valley’s developers are now building web-based systems that make old-world transaction processing seem like child’s play. After all, Twitter processes more transactions per day (in the form of messages) than the systems of many large corporations process in a month. Read More

  • Bringing Silicon Valley to Sacramento: Why Entrepreneurs Need to Help Rebuild California's IT Systems

    Most people don’t realize this, but Northern California actually has two giant technology centers: Silicon Valley and Sacramento. Silicon Valley is the world’s entrepreneurship capital and Sacramento is California’s State capital. They are less than 100 miles away from each other.  But technologically, they’re light years apart. While Silicon Valley’s workers… Read More