The Exit Trap

exitI was with a friend recently who has a pretty exciting Internet startup company. He has raised some money and might raise more, his product is in beta and it’s good. It solves a difficult technical problem many companies are struggling with. We argued a little over the name of the product. Of course I thought my suggested name was better or certainly cleverer, but then he said, “It doesn’t matter because we’ll probably sell the company before the product ever ships. It may never appear at all.”

His company will exit almost before it enters. This is happening a lot lately and we generally think it is a good thing but it’s not.

If, like me, […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 17 — Do the Wave

surf_board-legAnd so our two month retrospective comes to an end with this 17th and final chapter, circa 1996. I hope you have enjoyed it. Tomorrow I’ll be back to talk about the eBook version of this work as well as what I’ve been up to for the last eight weeks. It’s more than I ever expected… and less.

ACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

DO THE WAVE

We’re floating now on surfboards 300 yards north of the big public pier in Santa Cruz, California. As our feet slowly become numb in the cold Pacific water, it’s good to ponder the fact that this section of coastline, only fifteen miles […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 16 — But Wait, There’s More!

MoreFive years after Accidental Empires was published in hardcover and four years after the paperback, we got a chance to do a somewhat revised paperback edition to go with Triumph of the Nerds, my Channel 4/PBS miniseries based on the book. Revision may be too strong a word, because all I was allowed to do was add two extra chapters at the end. This gave me a chance to catch up with some of the major characters, correct a few mistakes, explain what had happened in the intervening half-decade and — oh by the way — finally say something about the Internet.

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

January […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 14 — Counter-Reformation

os2warpACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

COUNTER-REFORMATION

In Prudhoe Bay, in the oilfields of Alaska’s North Slope, the sun goes down sometime in late November and doesn’t appear again until January, and even then the days are so short that you can celebrate sunrise, high noon, and sunset all with the same cup of coffee. The whole day looks like that sliver of white at the base of your thumbnail.

It’s cold in Prudhoe Bay in the wintertime, colder than I can say or you would believe—so cold that the folks who work for the oil companies start their cars around October and leave them running twenty-four hours a day clear through […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 13 — Economics of Scale

redmond_aerialACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

ECONOMICS OF SCALE

We’re at the ballpark, now, and while you and I are taking a second bite from our chilidogs, this is what’s happening in the outfield, according to Rick Miller, a former Gold Glove center fielder for the Bosox and the Angels. When the pitcher’s winding up, and we figure the center fielder’s just stooped over out there, waiting for the photon torpedoes to load and thinking about T-bills or jock itch endorsements, he’s really watching the pitcher and getting ready to catch the ball that has yet to be thrown. Exceptional center fielders use three main factors in judging where the ball […]