Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Death of Risk in Silicon Valley

The Valley has been looking for "The...Next...Big...Thing" for the the last nine years.
Back in ought-one some folks thought it would be homeland security. In '04 cleantech/alt-energy.
Whether they end up filling the bill or not, look for a major contribution from boring old materials sciences. That's not where this story ends up but it is one of the reasons I am more optimistic than a lot of folks I talk to. The headline is from BusinessWeek, cute. As is the story:

Here's my list of the prime suspects responsible for the Valley's nagging aversion to risk

I was recently at a Silicon Valley conference where one of the debates that raged into the wee hours centered on Silicon Valley's increasing aversion to risk: Is it a good thing, and who's to blame for it?

Less risk-taking by entrepreneurs means less outright failure. A lot of burned startup founders and investors see this as a plus. But any macroeconomist will tell you it's the rare home runs—successful, innovative companies yielding high returns—that create jobs and capital that keep the Valley humming.

But today I am more interested in who or what is responsible for the death of risk in Silicon Valley. Obviously, the recession has played an important role. Stock market declines and surging unemployment have done a number on everyone's appetite for risk. But other parties deserve some of the blame. Herewith, my list of prime suspects...MORE