The Appearance of Accomplishment

Twitter made the news today because of CEO Evan William’s disclosure to employees that the company is valued at $1 billion.

Humorously, I also came across this today from the Editor in Chief of Esquire, David Granger, in the Letter from the Editor section of the October 2009 issue:

“We live in a culture that has begun to prize the appearance of accomplishment over actual accomplishment–it continues to amaze me that private enterprise and venture capital spend so much time and energy (not to mention cash) on “innovations” like Twitter and other forms of social blathering rather than marshaling the energies and talents of our engineers to create new industries to replace the ones that enabled the American Century.”

I admire Twitter for building such a seemingly simple product that appeals to so many people, but I can’t help but agree with Mr Granger: is this the best we can do?

Update: Sara Lacy posted an article on TechCrunch with similar sentiments.

edw519 responded to her article with the following comment on HackerNews, which, like most of his stuff, is thoroughly thought-provoking:

Investor: What are you building?Entrepreneur: Artificially intelligent software that automatically builds sophisticated business applications based on the enterprise’s business rules.

Investor: Your competitors are too entrenched. What can you do that’s simpler?

Entrepreneur: Small business software that ties all a company’s applications together.

Investor: You’ll never compete with Microsoft. What else?

Entrepreneur: Tiny apps that all kinds of people can use to run their stuff.

Investor: 37signals will kill you. What else?

Entrepreneur: Social software that enables your sales people to understand what’s happening in the global marketplace.

Investor: It’ll never work. Can you do something more practical?

Entrepreneur: An intelligent e-commerce system that guarantees the consumer the best value.

Investor: You’ll never compete with Amazon or Ebay. Got any other ideas?

Entrepreneur: Recipe software.

Investor: OK, if that’s the best you can do, we’ll go with it. Geez, I just wish you guys would dream a little bigger.

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