I cannot say this better than Dustin Curtis can, so read it: What a stupid idea.
They saw the future and they built it. But for some reason, my first reaction to their earliest attempts wasn’t to give them the benefit of the doubt–it was to immediately find problems and then dismiss their ideas.
The future is extremely hard to see through the lens of the present. It’s very easy to unconsciously dismiss the first versions of something as frivolous or useless. Or as stupid ideas.
We all talk about being disruptive, but how many people say things like “the relational database market is a $9bn market, I want to reduce it to a $3bn market and take 1/3 of that”? Saying is one thing, having the vision is another. That was me paraphrasing Marten Mickos (former CEO, MySQL – exit $1bn) speaking to Danny Rimer (partner, Index Ventures).
I live by the mantra that the best way to predict the future is to engineer it (via Alan Kay) and that the future is wide open.
I read with great zeal the article about Y Combinator in the NYT titled: Silicon Valley’s Start-Up Machine. I think there are a few important takeaways, especially with people trying to build this kind of thing elsewhere.
- People take the $100,000 at a 7% stake because of the whole experience. Advice from seasoned entrepreneurs (like pitch improvements, etc.). The importance of the network they bring (which is hugely underestimated by many clones). Dumb money remains dumb.
- “The general public doesn’t understand start-ups at all,” Buchheit said. “They’re mystified how a company with no revenue can be worth a billion dollars. It’s because of this power law: If a company has a 1 percent chance of being a hundred-billion-dollar company, then it’s worth about a billion dollars. That kind of thing doesn’t happen in your normal life experience. If I get a cup of tea, it’s a cup of tea — there isn’t a chance that it’s actually made out of solid gold. But that’s how this works.” – direct quote from Paul Buchheit
- “One of the reasons,” he said, “is because there’s nothing else to invest in. If you have money, there’s nothing to put it in. Bonds return nothing. And the stock market — what public company do you feel reasonably assured is going to go up at historical norms of 8 percent a year? It could all just fall apart. . . .” If, on the other hand, you discover the next Google, you can increase your investment by “a thousand X.”
Nothing else to invest in. Interest rates in the USA are low. In Malaysia (or Singapore), you have property as an investment that should return more than 8% per annum. Refer to my old post about the startup ecosystem in Malaysia.
Its nice to see lots of funds and accelerators pop up, but without the experience, the lack of vision, and other investment vehicles that return sufficiently, I’m not sure how even the angel incentives help.
A person’s true colours are always shown within time. You may be fooled for the moment, but patience is a virtue that reveals all.
As I scroll through Facebook/Twitter, many of my friends in Malaysia (and the greater Malaysian diaspora) are calling for change. But there are always a few that oppose this. (note that I have no beef with one’s political choice; I just want to look beyond the surface.)
You dig deeper and you understand why. They may not be cybertroopers (who likely come on with alter egos), but these are the cronies of the system. They have benefitted from government work & contracts. They feel entitled to defend because they’ve paid their dues (the customary bribes, entertainment, etc.). As long as the regime stays in power, they can always use the clout they’ve earned defending the regime to gain more contracts.
They pretend to play devil’s advocate. They engage. They intend to waste time by riding on a purportedly high horse. They are trolls. They deliberately anger. They break the normal flow of discussion. They are deliberately annoying for the sake of being obnoxious. They are the agent provocateurs of today. Don’t feed the trolls.
If the regime can throw USD$390k to a foreign journalist, imagine the value of the contracts these people have benefitted from. I’m willing to bet at the very least USD$700k-2million in terms of value (less post bribes, entertainment, etc.).
So no matter who wins in the thirteenth general election, I and others have seen the true colours of many reveal themselves. I’ve always believed in the expression, “Birds of a feather flock together”. If anything, I for one know whom I associate with, going forward. Let go of toxic associations.
I attended the OpenWest Conference in Orem, Utah, and have to say its one of the best community organised conferences. There were over 840+ people at the conference (with more walk-in’s), representing a greater than 100% growth rate compared to last year’s conference.
I gave a talk about MariaDB, and its safe to say that we’ve got many new features that that it’s getting very hard to go in-depth in a span of an hour.
One of the highlights for me was attending talks. I give so many talks, and spend a lot of time talking to people about MariaDB and MySQL, that I very rarely get to see other talks or learn new things. So OpenWest was very welcome from that aspect.
On Thursday, I saw a wonderful presentation by Dave Wellman on Hadoop 101 and the Big Data Hype. That’s an excellent slide deck with lots of animations. Rasmus Lerdorf gave an excellent presentation on PHP in 2013 – very detail oriented, I learned a lot about PHP 5.4.
The highlights for Friday were the two morning keynotes – both Rasmus Lerdorf and Mark Callaghan gave thoughtful speeches. I gave my talk (thanks for the nice words Mark), received lots of good questions and feedback (thanks to being right before lunch), attended Mark’s MySQL Q&A which was a great conversation for an hour. Many were interactive. I stuck around for Steve Meyers presentation Database Optimization for Web Developers, which was a 2hr tutorial and a good walkthrough.
Overall, a great time at the conference. Not to forget all the social time chatting with Mark and Steve. I’ve enjoyed my trip to Utah (first time here), and thanks to Steve for having us speak about MariaDB, and the captive audience.
As Malaysia goes to the polls tomorrow, I thought I’d go back and look at what tech goodness has been achieved by the Najib government after the 12th general elections.
- 1Malaysia Email project (myemail) awarded to Tricubes (delisted from stock exchange) to provide email to every Malaysian. I wroteabout it and was relatively bullish. Failure.
- 1Malaysia laptops at RM990 (link). More than 800,000 disbursed. Never sold to end users by the looks of it. Using the Intel Atom processor, the netbook market is mostly dead now. Mixed (though I haven’t found a student talk about their happiness with this).
- 1Malaysia Pad for RM999 (when similar tablets cost around RM300). Awarded to MalTechPro (website seems to have disappeared – maltechpro.com). Failure.
- 1Malaysia Messenger (1MM) via MalTechPro. To compete with BlackBerry Messenger/Whatsapp. Failure.
- Tried to pass a Computing Professional Bill 2011 and elect a Board of Computing Professionals. Didn’t succeed (good), on the backburner now (not so good). Semi-failure.
- Deep packet inspection leading to Internet filtering and the spread of a document that contains FinSpy (which is still under investigation as to whom benefits). Failure.
- World class broadband infrastructure – we did see the arrival of fibre, so Unifi, Maxis, etc. can provide faster broadband. Success.
- LTE is kind of here. Surprisingly Puncak Semangat has received spectrum. Company linked to Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary (business kingpin). Reminds me a lot of the 3G spectrum debacle, where DiGi didn’t get any so offered EDGE for a very long time; they however did enrich TDC to get the spectrum. Failure.
- Prepaid phones don’t have any GST like postpaid phones. This is due to demographic reasons. There is nothing 1Malaysia about it here. Failure.
- RM200 smartphone rebates. If my speculation is that it’s for spectrum recycling, it’s not entirely a failure, but getting a RM200 rebate on a phone that costs more than a basic 3G phone (i.e. no more than RM500) is absurd. Failure.
Did I miss anything?
If the elections are won by BN, it looks like there are promises of laptops for everyone. These seem to be Chromebooks, via 1BestariNet (interesting article to read). So there’s some tech to look forward to post-GE13 if Najib forms government.
Update (Sun 5 May 2013 01:39:07 MYT): Tekong informs that the poor in rural/urban areas will soon enjoy half an hour of Internet usage for free, via all telcos and ISPs because a study conducted shows people only use 15-30 minutes of access per day. This can be good to bridge the digital divide, though it looks like its something that only comes post-GE13. Too early to rate yet.
More updates on Internet censorship in Malaysia (follow up from yesterday, As elections nears, Malaysia filters the Internet).
- MCMC denies that there are access restrictions, claiming high traffic is what slows sites down. Sheikh Raffie Abd Rahman, the strategic communications chief needs to realise that he’s dealing with people smarter than he is, so this kind of bullshit isn’t going to work.
- Brian Ritchie made an infographic on helping people bypass the censorship. Should be good for most end users.
- Khairil Yusof from the Sinar project made a simple Python app to help you see if your connection is being filtered. This requires you to have a Python interpreter.
- An anonymous source pointed me to For Their Eyes Only. The report is chilling. Do a search for Malaysia (it’s a long PDF, I’ve not been able to read it all). It is covered in TMI and security.my. Avoid this file: SENARAI CADANGAN CALON PRU KE-13 MENGIKUT NEGERI.doc. If you’ve opened it, you’ve got FinSpy. This was brought up before by TMI via the NYT, however MCMC ended up investigating TMI over this.
In other news, it’s World Press Freedom Day. Remember that access is equally as important as freedom of expression.