The KickStarter Paradox

Among the great business innovations of the Internet era are KickStarter and the many similar crowdfunding sites like IndieGoGo. You know how these work: someone wants to introduce a new gizmo or make a film but can only do so if you and I pay in advance with our only rewards being a possible discount on the gizmo or DVD. Oh, and a t-shirt. Never before was there a way to get people — sometimes thousands of people — to pay for stuff not only before it was built but often before the inventors even knew how to build it. From the Pebble smart watch to Veronica Mars, crowdfunding […]

Entrepreneurism and the politics of hope

I’m an older guy with younger kids so to some extent I live vicariously through my friends, many of whom have children who are now entering the work force and some of those children can’t find jobs. We’re not in a recession, the economy is expanding, new positions are supposedly being added every day, but the sons and daughters of my friends aren’t generally getting those jobs so they are staying in school or going back to school, joining the Peace Corps., whatever. Everyone is rattled by this. Kids don’t want to move home and parents don’t want to have them move home. Student debt continues to increase. Everyone wants to get on with the lives they thought they […]

One way (maybe the only way) Yahoo can succeed

marissamayerAlibaba’s IPO has come and gone and with it Yahoo has lost the role of Alibaba proxy and its shares have begun to slide. Yahoo’s Wall Street honeymoon, if there ever was one, is over, leaving the company trying almost anything it can to avoid sliding into oblivion. Having covered Yahoo continuously since its founding 20 years ago it is clear Y! has little chance of managing its way out of this latest of many crises despite all the associated cash. But — if it will — Yahoo could invest its way to even greater success.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, thinking like Type A CEOs nearly always seem to think, wants to take some of the […]

So Pat McGovern walks into a bar…

PatinredPat McGovern died this week at 76 in Palo Alto totally surprising me because I didn’t even know he had been ill. Uncle Pat, as we called him, was the founder of Computerworld back in 1967 and the year before that research firm International Data Corp., started in his suburban Boston kitchen. Pat helped turn the computer business into an industry and employed a lot of people along the way including me. He was an exceptional person and I’d like to tell you why.

Pat ran a company that published about 200 computer magazines all over the world. Each December he traveled the globe to give holiday bonuses to every employee he could find. The bonuses […]

Where have you gone, Engine Charlie?


first-corvette-1953Charles Erwin Wilson, known as “Engine Charlie,” was president of General Motors and later Secretary of Defense under President Dwight Eisenhower. He is broadly — and incorrectly — quoted as having said during his Senate confirmation hearing “what’s good for General Motors is good for America.” His actual quote is more nuanced: “For years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”

This is a fascinating bit of history because we aren’t talking about today’s General Motors or even today’s United States of America but the GM and the USA of 1953 — a time when both were leading the world. Yet look at the equivocation in […]