Monday, April 27, 2009

Rules of engagement

For the past four years I have been a guest in Amir Goldman's class at Wharton. This year, Howard Morgan and I will be commenting on their year-end entrepreneurial projects, and giving a few 'words of the wise'. It's a big responsibility, and I have tried to distill a many thoughts down to a few pithy snippets:

1. Companies are only as healthy as their customers. If you are supplying the auto industry or financial services verticals, no matter how smart you are, it's a difficult place to build equity value within an existing company. These industries are shrinking. On the other hand, growing companies, within growing industries are limited by the number of qualified people they can attract. Focus on growth industries and look to the largest, or fastest growing companies to be a part of.

2. We are at the beginning of a permacheap revolution. The coming of age of the digital generation who will start and run businesses with incredible capital efficiency will lower prices for customers, contribute to a surplus of real estate, think globally from the outset and be EXPORTERS of DEFLATION. You can choose to try to fight this, or jump on the bandwagon. The media companies, by putting up walls to prevent 'analog dollars' from becoming 'digital pennies' will unfortunately, be left with digital air.

3. The 'batch' world is dead. We are addicted to real-time communications and expect if from our peers, vendors and even friends. As Twitter has shown, this is a big opportunity, which I am sure, will have many branches

4. By embracing and empowering a community, you can simultaneously offer greater value, lower expenses and be a good citizen to boot. It's a great time to listen to folk like Craig Newmark.

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