Wired.com’s Marcus Wohlsen wrote a fascinating article a few days ago about what some Silicon Valley moguls think is becoming a dangerous misconception in the startup industry. Summer interns for tech startups kingpins like Google, Facebook, and Twitter heard urgent advice from startup leaders including Dustin Moskovitz, fellow ex-Facebook employees Matt Cohler and Justin Rosenstein, and venture-capitalist Ben Horowitz. Instead of a typical go and create something speech, Moskovitz and the others urged the audience to know exactly what that something is before starting a company. According to them, failing to do so and launching a venture just for the sake of doing so is a dangerous and risky choice.
As the article’s author points out, the irony of the message that urges brilliant kids to not start their own company from people who went and did just that could make their argument a bit tougher to swallow. However, it is hard to argue that the fascination and media portrayal of the starting your own company (everything ranging from the big paydays of Instagram’s Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger (who surprisingly look a lot like Lil Wayne and Fat Joe) to Bravo’s recently canceled and frequently mocked reality show “Start-Up: Silicon Valley”) might be leading many hopeful entrepreneurs down a very slippery slope. The panel insisted that too many people become obsessed with the idea of starting a company rather than the idea behind the company itself, eventually becoming a part of the growing number of startups that fail.
Wohlsen makes a great point to mention that the audience should think long and hard about the panel’s advice, and what the underlying motive might be. “He [Rosenstein] and Moskovitz have a company to run, after all,” Wohlsen writes. “The market for talent is tight. If the great engineers in the room that night started their own companies, he couldn’t hire them. Nor could anyone else.” While they make a valid point about determining the proper reasons to run and start a business, it’s tough to decipher the real reasons these startup moguls are urging 20 something whiz kids to avoid going down the exact same road they once did only a few short years ago. Sound off on your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.
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