Wednesday, January 18, 2012

We Can't All Be Astronauts

Back in the 80s, I remember one of my Uncles telling me how he thought it would be an awesome idea to have a store with a few blenders that made nothing but fresh fruit smoothies. I thought it was a stupid idea, but I was probably only 7-8 years old, so what would I know? Therefore my Uncle invented Jamba Juice (or Boost Juice in Australia). Except of course he didn't really, because although he had the idea he never acted upon it. Now this might have been for any number of reasons, but most likely the reality of trying to support a family meant that he did not feel he had the opportunity to engage in a risky proposition like starting his own business. 

So this has got me to thinking a lot lately about the role of the entrepreneurs and startups in the economy and the associated general perceptions. There is no doubt that society has a large amount of admiration for entrepreneurs. Particularly in technology, founders are a highly visible part of a company and held in high esteem. Jobs, Gates, Brin, Page and Zuckerberg are household names. The ability to build a multi-billion dollar business in a short period of time from nothing but thin air is no doubt impressive.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Technology and the Australian Media

I have been at the Four Seasons Palo Alto this week for a company sales conference. It's a very nice hotel right in the heart of Silicon Valley, near a few small companies that do stuff with the Internet or something. Walking into the hotel this morning, I did a double take when I saw this sign in front of one of the conference/banquet rooms. For non Australians, New South Wales (NSW) is the most populous state in Australia, with 7.2m people, and Sydney is the state's capital (pop. 4m).

I was genuinely excited to see this sign. Days after my four year anniversary of arriving in America, I still get a kick out of little reminders from home. To me this sign was like Vegemite on toast. I have no idea of the agenda or the invite list, other than to wonder how my invite got lost in the mail. My impression would be the NSW Government are looking to build relationships in Silicon Valley. That they they recognize the importance of a vibrant technology sector to the ongoing growth of the Australian economy. That they believe NSW can be a center of excellence for high tech and what better way to learn than to come to Silicon Valley and learn from the best. That they can provide guidance and a pathway for Aussie entrepreneurs and companies to operate in the most competitive market in the world, which can only lead to good things for NSW. Any Aussie will proudly tell you about Australia's ability to punch well above its weight globally in any field, given it is a country the size of the continental US with a population the size of Southern California. It was pride that made me think this little piece of paper was significant enough to bother taking a photo with my iPhone.