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At ArcticStartup we seek to uncover all sides of startup sector. The Vice President, the author of this story, is our enterprise columnist who demanded full anonymity in exchange for full disclosure.

The VP

Most of you never heard of us but trust me: you have felt the soft touch of our raw materials in your everyday gadgets, you have tasted and smelled the chemical components from that sweet muffin you enjoyed last Saturday. You know us, even if you don’t.

I am the Vice President and I represent the best interest of The Corporation.

Nice to meet you.

Now … I have been following, with great interest that is, that strange animal called the Startup Industry. It’s mostly a bunch of geeks trying to raise capital for their mediocre new social media platform. Oh boy, isn’t that a big casino! Reminds me the good old days in New York before Black Monday — everyone had something, some claimed to know more than others but in the end of the day, the house always won.

To be frank with you, I haven’t always taken all this with such a humor. When I first heard of it I almost panicked — there was a new tiny company (they didn’t even have a fax number!) recently registered in Delaware that said they have solution for mining & heavy industries previously unheard of; they claimed to be able to — using Big Data fusion algorithms and AI + utilizing Google Maps — locate new raw materials with 82% accuracy! That was unheard of and I raged at the meeting that we must start shutting cash down their throats, buy them, acquire them, make them our subsidiary!

Fortunately we have this balanced fellow, still a Junior VP Paul, who suggested to look into this startup stuff. I told Little Paul (well, he’s short) to get back to me with more intel the very following morning even if his whole department had to sleep under their desks — we can’t lose tens of millions to some MIT students, for god’s sake!

Next day Little Paul entered my corner office with a hesitant smile.

He had more information — a very colorful A4 leaflet, looking like some sort of commercial and a printed out presentation. He seemed excited.

And he had every right to be! Of course, I never gave him any credit (we’re not a Sunday School!) but the speed at what he had acquired that information was shocking. The materials included everything — their software architecture, hints to algorithmic structure (our IT guys figured it quickly out, they’re MIT graduates). The leaflet was pointless, though, had some way too general market data (that anyone could google), short bios of their management, something about some sort of a problem and so on. Too colorful, got me dizzy.

So, just before calling to the HR and legal about that new awesome product we’re about to launch it stroke me — I still didn’t know how he got these sensitive materials! I asked if he used the help of our CISO who has contacts in the forces. He smiled and shook his head. Then I realized, he must have used the Chinese. The Chinese! It’s not bloody nineties anymore! I told him clearly to never ever use the Chinese again!!!

I was getting very angry, I mean Code Red angry.

Eager Junior VP Paul stopped me. “Calm down, Sir. Let me just tell you how I got it.” I sat down again. My palms were sweaty.

“I asked them,” he said.

I didn’t get it. “What do you mean?” I asked, confused to my guts.

“I emailed them. Made myself a random hotmail address and just offered them 100K.”

“Now why would they, in their clear fucking mind, sell their own strategic information for a mere 100K?” I asked.

“And how did you get the payment cleared?”

Now I was even more confused.

“No, I didn’t pay anything. I offered to INVEST 100K. And they just sent me everything.”

Wasn’t I shocked, happy and mad at his genius at the same time! He just asked! Just fucking asked!?! Just like…

“Hello! …yes, it’s The Vice President here…. Can I get all your confidential information on a silver platter delivered to my office by your CEO dressed as a butler by 3 pm? Yes? Yes, you can also include your strategic plans, that won’t hurt! Thank you! Yes, I may invest Hundred Thousand Dollars, yes, I may be even considering it right now… Yes, 3 pm, you got it!”

I felt a little bit like a boy in a candy store — I like this new strange animal Startup Industry! Not only are you getting stuff pennies on the dollar — you’re getting it for free!

Based on their ideas and concepts we quickly rolled out a new product called HyperScan:Giga and licensed it for many millions to our partners and clients. Finding out it actually doesn’t work that well, we later called PRAW LP (“Preliminary Raw Material Location Proposer”) and made some millions more.

By now we also have set up a whole new intelligence gathering department that we call “Technology Scouts”, so we have more information flowing in than we know what to do with. But there’s some good stuff, I must admit. Sometimes we even buy something, but mostly they have weak management and no IPR, so it has no value. Ideas don’t cost anything so why to pay for them if we have to tweak them anyway?

And of course, after realizing that day that the small company I was worried is stealing market from us actually opened new markets, I told Little Paul never EVER to toy with me again and just tell me the important things directly. That was his last warning.

He left my office motivated.

Sincerely yours,

The Vice President

***

the opinions of the columnists are not necessarily that of ArcticStartup

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