Why Companies Are Not Startups
steve blank
96541

I remember when I was in graduate school — about 50 years ago — and we had a discussion of the difference between SARCASM and IRONY.

One of the other students in our seminar kind of nailed it. He said
SARCASM — You are standing on a shore. You can see the luxury liner is about to hit an iceberg and likely about to start sinking. (Just for fun, think TITANIC.) From your vantage point, you can see the people happily promenading on deck and enjoying the pleasant ocean trip, food, scenery, etc.

From your vantage point on shore, you laugh sarcastically and say

“Look at those fools! Not aware that in a few seconds they will be scrambling desperately for loved ones and life boats and may or may not get off the ship with their lives!

Our seminar classmate defined the above as SARCASM. He then went on to define Irony as follows:

You are on the luxury liner. You are the first passenger to become aware of the iceberg you are about to crunch. You realize that you, along with everybody else, may be about to die. That he said

“Is Irony”

I was in grad school as an English major. By boring twists and turns of fates, I ended up working for a startup in Silicon Forest (like Silicon Valley but anchored around Tektronix (now obscure) and Intel (not so obscure but getting a little long in the corporate sharp shark teeth about the time when computers and the Internet was very new. I met Steve Jobs and Bill Gates early in their spectacular careers. The company I worked for flirted with success but like maybe 99 out of a hundred in those days of wine and roses and cocaine and cigarettes and abused women crashed and burned spectacularly.

When I met Jobs and Gates they were bright, unpleasant people. You probably did not want to work for them or around them, though you might have gotten rich. You also might have ruined your life. (Not quite my story, but I saw it happen to people.)

As best I can tell, Jobs kind of remained a brilliant jerk all his life. Gates kind of grew up. (I have an obscure connection to him and his family to this day. No reason for you to believe me — this is the Internet and humans always lie just as humans have always lied — how we became human.

My perspective at age 73 is that the METAPHORICAL SHIP — our nasty, vicious Homo sapiens species — is very close to extinction — most likely species suicide.

Bill and Melinda Gates, bright people — have started a huge foundation because they seem to realize the ship is sinking.

This essay I just read sounds to me like people just nattering on the ship as it nears the iceberg.

I may be doing you an injustice. Let me know if so. I try to admit mistakes.