I’m not too slow, it only took me a few hours to put two and two together.
In some research I’ve been doing today I’ve been buffeted by variations on a handful of recurring themes.
Two of them just smacked me in face in quick succession and so now, of course, I flatter myself by thinking I’ve spotted something deep and fundamental. But before I get to what that is, I should introduce the face-smackers.
1. There are twice as many venture capital firms as there were a decade ago, and, all together, they have eight times as much capital under management, even after the bloodletting of the tech-bust The result is that there is more money than there are good opportunities to invest that money. ( more on the “current state of ‘venture'”:http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/06/issue/invite.asp?p=0 )
2. There are a lot of opportunities for the small guy that didn’t seem to exist 5-10 years ago (as Seth Godin puts it ==”==”Small is the new big”:http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2005/06/small_is_the_ne.html”). This opportunity is driven, in large part of the restructuring of the world economy over the last decade, aided and abetted by huge investments in technology that have automated basic and not so basic business infrastructure.
Ironically, I think people’s willingness to try it on their own as a small operator with big aspirations has been stoked by the impacts of the same forces, which have made the big companies look a lot less attractive as employers as they’ve replaced people with technology and offshore workers without offering anything in the way of retraining.
What struck me, eventually, is that #2 has a lot to do with #1. In many areas, an enterprising person can do a lot more with a lot less now, which means that they need for venture capital has declined, even as the supply has increaced. What’s more it’s easy to imagine that a lot of people who lived through the excesses of the tech bubble, may not be in such a hurry to get big fast, or at all, having seen what happens when a business model that might sustain a niche business for years gets shot full of VC growth hormone, only to flame out and become the butt of jokes and an object of derision.