What I Told My Investor Friend Who Hates Startups Now
The Silicon Valley Bank collapse was likely the last nail in the coffin for one of my investor friends. He’s had it with startups — even down on the concept of business in general.
I think he’s going socialist. Maybe.
The problem is… some of what he says makes a lot of sense. In a certain light.
Look, I struggle with some of the concepts of capitalism myself sometimes, probably no more or less than anyone who doesn’t define themselves by the opinions of their largest shareholders. But those people are few and far between — dyed-in-the-wool career-ladder-enthusiasts at large corporations who look at business like a game to be played and won, rather than a system to achieve synergistic results with aggregated talent working on great ideas.
For the record, I subscribe to the latter definition.
But the former is real. Some people play business like a game. To their detriment. And everyone else’s.
Literally — an organization I won’t say how I’m familiar with spent a couple years laboring under a mission statement that translated gently to “Play to Win.” I believe that single choice for a statement fostered the exact culture you might imagine it would: A bunch of attractive, expensive outfit-wearing, overly-educated drones trying to out-position one another.
When people decry capitalism and start dropping hints at socialist leanings, this is what they point to as a reason why. I mean, you could read my last sentence in the prior paragraph as a Marxist dig. But I’m actually not at war with those drones, they’re why the rest of the world can buy shit cheap. I just don’t want to ever have to pretend I’m one of them.
But here’s the thing. I’m an optimist. And because of that, I believe that none of those people actually believe what they’re peddling. They’ve just been duped.
The problem with capitalism — or the problem with the larger umbrella of “business” — isn’t that it works like a game that needs to be aggressively played and won. It’s that people who don’t know any better think that that’s what people want them to believe…