Dartmouth's Daily Blog
News, commentary, criticism and praise for the College on the Hill, enlivened with history, culture and travel when we feel so moved.
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It’s All About Execution
In a class that I audited many years ago at Yale’s School of Organization and Management, entrepreneur/professor Bill Lyons opined: “There are a lot of great ideas out there. The idea gets 5%. It’s execution that’s hard. Execution gets 95%.” So it goes with the businesses — Uber and Airbnb — described in Brad Stone’s The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World. Attentive readers will recall my brief comment on Stone’s book about Amazon, The Everything Store, in which I noted the involvement of many Dartmouth alumni in the creation and growth of Amazon.com.
Stone’s new book seems less comprehensively researched, but the critical takeaway is how multiple other companies tried to do the same things as Uber and Airbnb, but were out-hustled, out-financed and out-chutzpahed by the latest generation of internet phenoms — innovative, energetic and ferociously competitive creators. The term robber baron is archaic, but Uber’s Travis Kalanick would give Jay Gould a run for his money.
Who today remembers Airbnb’s predecessors and early competitors: Couchsurfing, VRBO, HomeAway and the home rental section of Craigslist? And Uber’s rivals: Zimride, Lyft, Taxi Magic, Cabulous and Seamless Wheel? Some of them still exist; all have been eclipsed by the two powerhouse companies that are now used by hundreds of millions of people every week all over the globe. Only Lyft is still trying to play in the big leagues, having had its day when it pioneered what we now know as UberX, leaving Uber to play catch-up for once (in fact, Uber uncharacteristically encouraged regulators to shut down Lyft’s ridesharing-by-anyone-with-a-car service).
What a remarkable company-creation ecosystem we have in this country. Angels and venture capitalist will invest billions of dollars in nascent firms that are a long way from profitability. The end result is companies wildly successful like Airbnb and Uber — and a host of also-rans where investors lost all their money. Nobody on the globe comes close
Addendum: In auditing about 45 Dartmouth courses over the past three decades, I have heard every few years in class from pessimistic students that the great opportunities have already been taken. First it was Microsoft and Apple; then Google and Amazon; followed by Facebook and Instagram; and now Uber and Airbnb. Kids, the future is not yet over.
Addendum: One has to wonder at the lack of diversity among the founders of these now-massively powerful companies. Virtually all are educated-in-America men.
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
- The Dartmouth College Case
- 2007 Trustee Election
- Dartmouth Constitution
- Sunday Morning Sinatra
- The Indian Wars
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