Tech Bubble -- Version 2.0
Posted by bsstahl on 2011-01-31 and Filed Under: general
In Lived Fast, Died Young, Left a Tired Corpse, Jeff Atwood speaks of both the successes and failures of the original .Com Bubble and posits that we are entering another bubble at this very moment. As someone who participated in bubble 1.0 (2 startups, only gained experience to show for it), I plan to watch both of the documentary films that Jeff mentioned with the goal of being able to identify when I see the same things occurring again. However, the part of the post that struck closest to home for me was the very end, where Jeff states:
Yes, you will have incredibly lucrative job offers in this bubble. That's the easy part. As Startup.com and Code Rush illustrate, the hard part is figuring out why you are working all those long hours. Consider carefully, lest the arc of your career mirror that of so many failed tech bubble companies: lived fast, died young, left a tired corpse.
Thinking about the time I spent in these .com startups, and thereafter with smaller (non-corporate) customers, I am struck by how uncomfortable I was with the non-corporate culture. Put another way, I am startled by how comfortable I am now that I am back working in a very corporate environment. I spent the first 11 years of my career at a medium-sized corporation that became a large corporation while I was there, and have spent the last 4 years at a medium-sized corporation that is rapidly growing. In between, I spent 10 years hopping around between .com startups and consulting gigs all over the country. While I enjoyed the travel and the fast-paced, rapidly changing environments, I found there was something very significant missing for me at these assignments.
It is clear to me now that the startup game is not, and never was, for me. I don’t think it is the long hours either since it is not uncommon for me to put in extensive hours when I have a deadline to meet no matter where I am working. More likely, it seems to me, is that I have process to lean on when necessary. That is, when I see something that doesn’t make sense, I can lean on the corporate culture to a large degree to either fix it, or to start the process to change it. While this change may not happen as rapidly as in smaller companies with less process, it is also less likely to cause “ripple-effect” changes that create problems elsewhere because the process identifies those potential problems. I know this will seem counter-intuitive to many, but it has definitely been my experience that the process of larger corporations solves problems quickly enough, and causes fewer tangential problems. Perhaps this is because I feel comfortable examining the origins of a process and changing or eliminating it if it no longer makes sense. That is, I am able to use the effective processes effectively and eliminate the ineffective ones. I’d like to think that is the case but I also recognize how self-serving a supposition that is.
When the next bubble comes and the job offers flow freely again, just keep in mind that, aside from figuring out why you want to do what you do as Jeff said, you also need to figure out in what environment you are most comfortable doing it. Many feel they are more comfortable in the low-resistance, low-process environment of a startup. Of course, most startups fail…