Are you the music or the music industry? Pavement or Steamroller?

I just read Seth’s post “Music vs. the music industry” and it echoes conversations I have with many of my customers that operate within endangered industries.

Are you endangered?

What’s an endangered industry? One that thrived pre-Internet on a business model based on creating scarcity of information that easily converts to digital format. These industries are either already dead (like the CD-based music industry) or have one foot in the grave (like the MLS-centric Real Estate Industry).

Which side of your industry do you belong to?

Are your industry’s actions characterized by protectionist moves or out-of-the-box growth strategies? Are you working crazy to whack-a-mole new competitors or are you licking your chops and slaying the sacred fat cows of inefficient old generation companies?

I remember the key lesson of the economic hiccup of 2001: it forced smart companies to accelerate their transformation plans to get smarter i.e. more competitive and it gave the ax to fat slob companies that struggled to deliver serious value.

You need to be the 1.0 of the new industry

The CD-based music industry is essentially dead and they’re getting steamrolled by the mp3 music industry with places like iTunes or IMO innovative sites like Pandora which are game-changers if anything. The old guard had a chance of course to embrace mp3 formats back in the late ’90s but instead they chose to attempt to protect their untenable position. The rest is history. There will be a new music industry, but it sure won’t be the 2.0 of the old industry. It will be 1.0 of the new industry.

Let go

Know what side you’re on. And if you’re on the side fighting for its life, jump over to the side that’s licking its chops at the huge growth opportunities ahead. Remember what drove Anakin to the Dark Side: holding on. Do what Yoda advised: Let go what you want to hold onto the most.

A Historic Opportunity for Hawaii’s Tech Community

Trivia question: What is the most important decision you will be making at the ballot box at this November election? (Hint: it’s not the election of any candidate).

Answer: Whether or not to hold a Constitutional Convention or “ConCon”.

Every 10 years, voters have the opportunity to decide whether or not we can hold a ConCon which is where wholesale changes can be made to our state constitution.

Our last ConCon was 30 years ago and in 1978 some important changes were made, according to Dkosopedia including among others:

• Creation of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs
• Term limits for governor
• Requiring a balanced budget

And so in 2008, we once again have the chance to hold a ConCon.

So where’s the historic “Geek Component” opportunity?

I believe that we have before us the potential to put our heads together and create a web application that lends itself to democratic participation and decision-making. I believe this model can be applied to ConCon and if successful can subsequently be used for other public decision-making systems like the City Council and State Legislature.

Open source development paradigm meets public decision making
From what I’ve learned so far, my understanding is that ConCons have strong grassroots elements. They are a chance for the people to engage in an open conversation about Hawaii’s future. In 1978, they didn’t have the Internet. Today, we have broadband networks and powerful computers. Do we have sufficient technological resources to enable digital debates? I think so.

We have Internet-based political campaigning. What about Internet-based lawmaking?
Barack Obama has taken Internet-based campaigning and fundraising to a new level. He has permanently “torn the fabric of space” in regards to merging Internet with politics. I believe we can take the next logical step and use the Internet for public debate, decision-making, and perhaps even legislation. Imagine the kind of input and diversity of thought that would result if any citizen could participate in a serious debate on important issues from the comfort and convenience of their home. What kind of increased participation could we get from that?

A bold step has been taken
There’s only one way to find out and I’m proud to say that together with other leaders like Burt Lum, Ryan Ozawa, Former Congressman Ed Case, Jay Fidell, and Representative Della Au Bellati, we’ve launched HawaiiConCon.org. Today, it’s a combination of Ning social networking and pbwiki.com wiki infrastructures. Tomorrow, who knows? The users will drive the need.

E Komo Mai!
I’m cordially inviting all of you to come over to HawaiiConCon.org and participate. Get involved. There are some issues about Hawaii’s government you must hold dear or want to change. What are they? Tell us about it! We too are using Ning so there’s no signup process.

We need Geeks Like You to get involved!
So far the initial success has been great. But as the site grows in popularity, people will need both help and more features. And that’s where YOU come in. Hawaii’s tech community could and should be the ambassadors that herald in a new age of Digital Democracy. It can happen if you help us make it happen.

Be a part of the solution
This year, the voters will decide if they want to hold a ConCon. Right now there is only one site that is encouraging learning, discussions, and decisions regarding this most important issue and with your help and participation, HawaiiConCon.org can become the epicenter of a new paradigm of public political participation.

See you there!

The Wisdom of Crowds

I had a great time presenting to a crowd of about 200 people on Friday, Sept 28 on a topic I’m really in love with known as “The Wisdom of Crowds”
“The Wisdom of Crowds” Based on the Book by James Surowiecki
that basically says you can setup a method of getting input from people in such a way that the result is nearly always the right answer.

You can download the slide deck here. Enjoy!

test wrap

test

My VC test score results: 39

Guy Kawasaki has a blunt, in-your-face writing style that I really enjoy. I took his Venture Capital Aptitude test and scored a 39, which Guy says

Call Sequoia and Kleiner, Perkins and tell them that you’re available.

Hehe..cool.

Your own online startup reading libary

Doing a startup? Read through this list of excellent essays and you’ll learn a lot.

Will it pay to have Pals in Honolulu?

Greg Kim, Honolulu attorney and founder of Vantage Counsel, sent out an email to his contacts and with his permission I’m reprinting the email here:

Dear Friends, here’s an interesting article ,”It Pays to Have Pals in Silicon Valley“, from today’s New York Times regarding the YouTube phenomenon and the numerous other PayPal spinoffs. Some reflections on relevance for Hawaii:

  1. There’s nothing like having a huge success like PayPal to jumpstart multiple spinoff companies and the acceleration of tech development and creativity. To follow this example, Hawaii should aim for a few huge successes that will ultimately generate spinoffs and accelerate critical mass.
  2. Startups are hard work and they need to be. The strong will survive. We shouldn’t make it easy for entrepreneurs to fund their companies if we are to complete globally and find sustainable businesses. If we make it too easy for them, then we are actually hurting them in the long run.
  3. Hawaii should thus be careful about taking risk away from entrepreneurs and investors. As Reid Hoffman (PayPal alum and founder of LinkedIn) is quoted at the end of the article, “Nothing focuses your attention quite like losing money and the sense that you are going to die soon.”
  4. Entrepreneurs want things to be hard. That’s why they are entrepreneurs. The article makes numerous references to the bonding that occurred through the stress and hard work (nights and weekends) of employees of PayPay in its early stages as a struggling startup. It states: “The long hours, sleepless nights and intense pressure of life inside a start-up often create strong bonds among its employees. In its early years, PayPal was all about pressure and the struggle for survival. The company was losing millions each month.”
  5. We should nurture this type of environment for entrepreneurs.