Howard Greenfield at the Plug and play tech center: even in these times of crisis "it's never been so easy for a start-up to get started on a very low budget"
2nd, 2010 we had the opportunity to meet with Howard Greenfield, president of
GO associates, a global consulting firm that helps companies bring technology
to the market place. Howard Greenfield is also EIR (i.e. Executive In
Residence) at the plug and play Tech center, a unique facility in Sunnyvale
California, at the heart of Silicon Valley, which helps start-ups and big
companies get together in order to grow their business. Howard also worked in
Are venture capitalist arrogant?
day, there is a series of 5 to 6 sessions of start-ups in front of venture capitalists"
Howard says, "some of these VCs are very supportive. Some are very
arrogant, dismissive, discouraging". "The
reason why VCs are sometimes getting arrogant" Howard adds is that
"the financial picture is more squeezed and there is an erosion of the technology
financial infrastructure at the moment in the
When asked to cite one of the craziest example is that he has witnessed, Howard mentions one particular start-up, which was trying to recreate an entire 3-D desktop browser interface in which every graphic would be 3-D so as to supersede the incumbents which are Microsoft, Google and Apple etc. "That was crazy but exciting (I mean ahead of its time). The response was: 'are you guys real?'". But in a way, Howard says, "if your innovative project is embraced upfront it means that you're doing something wrong! Rejection proves that the technology is disruptive, it's the foundation for innovation. Because when innovation is significant it is disruptive and it upsets people in the way that they usually do things.
Do VCs favour mature projects?
"It's a case-by-case answer" Howard responds. "VCs prefer what is going to succeed financially. Preferences are secondary versus opportunities. There is no flexibility".
What is the current situation? Is it easy going at the moment?
is not the heyday like in the 1990s. But there are events that took place a few
moments ago showing that there is something happening now. But the paradox is
that it's never been so easy for a start-up to get started on a very low
budget. It's a gold rush story in
are the top topics in the
"The top topics in the Silicon Valley at the moment are cloud computing, then social networking and social media, then digital media and last but not least mobile" Greenfield declares. "There is a big tsunami with the potential of mobile computing. Jim Creamer, a very popular TV presenter here, very tech savvy who managed a multi-million innovation fund, described the tsunami of mobile computing and that will surpass anything we've seen before".
"There are more tragedies because everyone can do it, even grandmothers can do it!"
is universal but the constraints are about the culture. I work a lot with
Europe, my experience is that it is more enjoyable over there but you don't
have that manic way of working we have in the
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