COVID-19 will Kill a Ton of Startups (or So it Will Seem)

Yes, I’m still predicting-away, though the pandemic is having some impact on the direction in which this narrative is going. Today’s column on startups and venture capital, for example, wasn’t even on my original list of predictions. Just as the financial markets will use this catastrophe for a reset, so, too, will Sand Hill Road, which has pretty much stopped investing and is now deciding, instead, who to kill?

The psychology of venture capital doesn’t work the way most people think. That’s because it is an industry based on failure: most startups — the vast majority — fail. That means most VC investment decisions are wrong. There is simply no way of […]

Not dead yet! What Bob Cringely has been up to…

A few days ago I tweeted something and a reader reacted, saying about Cringely, “I thought he was dead!” Not dead yet, but I should probably explain my disappearance a few months ago from life in print. I’ve just been too busy working for a living. How does a 67-year-old hack with three minor children recover from going blind, losing his home and business in a horrible fire (like 2,000 others, we are still fighting with insurance companies), while appeasing an angry crowd of Kickstarter supporters armed with pitchforks and shovels? In my case, I went looking for venture money to recapitalize MineServer and I simultaneously started a satellite launch company to fund […]

Why Yahoo is worth less than nothing


marissamayerA reader pointed out to me today that Yahoo, minus its Alibaba and Yahoo Japan stakes plus cash, is now worth less than nothing according to Wall Street. This says a lot about Yahoo but even more about Wall Street, since the core company is still profitable if in decline. If I were a trader (I’m not) that would argue Yahoo is a buy since there’s likely to be a future point at which the company will be free of those other riches and even Wall Street will be forced to give the carcass a positive value.

But when I heard about the negative value story the first thing […]

The Indiana Pi Bill, Ellen Pao, and IBM

IBMjapancoverThe Indiana Legislature is in the news for passing a state law considered by many to be anti-gay. It reminded me of the famous Pi Bill — Bill #246 of the 1897 Indiana General Assembly. There’s a good account of the bill on Wikipedia, but the short story is a doctor and amateur mathematician wanted the state to codify his particular method of squaring the circle, a side effect of which would be officially declaring the value of π to be 3.2.

The bill was written by Representative Taylor I. Record, sent to the Education Committee where it passed, went back to the Indiana House of Representatives where it […]

Reporter’s Notebook: Yahoo, IBM, IEEE and me

presspull

I haven’t been writing as much lately. This has been for several reasons, some of which may surprise you. It’s true I’ve had to spend a lot of time fending-off attacks from IBM corporate (more on that below) but I’ve mainly been at work on two secret projects. One is a new documentary series for PBS and the other a new technology startup I’m doing with a partner. The PBS series will be announced when PBS decides to announce it but most of the shooting is already done. The startup has taken the traditional VC route and looks, surprisingly, like it will actually be funded. Evidently if your idea is wild enough and […]