Much is made about Silicon Valley’s culture of “innovation.” But the model for startup venture financing, and the system of rewards driving this supposed innovation, isn’t creative — it’s masturbatory. It wastes potential. It’s uninspired. It leaves founders like us staring at the ceiling.
That’s similar to what I call ‘combinatorial innovation’. Let me explain.
Many years ago I had a discussion with a friend; we live in Brazil, so our PoV is different from the US.
At that time Zynga was growing like crazy, Groupon clones were everywhere, and I noticed a strange pattern. Sometimes it felt like some investors were actively pushing would-be founders to start companies on a brute force approach. They would try to mix and match features of other successful projects to try to create something different.
I called this brute force approach ‘combinatorial innovation’. It’s exactly what the name suggests: let’s try all combinations of features and see what works. The only problem is that the founder is the expendable part in this business. Founders are easily replaceable. And that still goes today.