Seattle startup scene: More of the same, all the time


Either I’m the most curdled curmudgeon in the world, or the most insightful person in the world. It’s a bimodal graph with no middle ground.

I lurk on the Seattle Tech Startups list, follow GeekWire and TechFlash (which went downhill after Bishop and Cook left), keep abreast of what’s cooking in NWEN, and occasionally attend after-work local tech events.

(I don’t frequent local tech social events as much as I want to. Here’s the pattern:

  1. I read about an interesting event, Meetup, mixer, or socializer.
  2. I think, yeah I want to go to that!
  3. So I sign up.
  4. The day arrives.
  5. At about 4 pm, I’m up to my neck in alligators and I’ve been going at 100% all day long.
  6. I think, ummmmmm, Do I want to hang with tech folks after work?
  7. No. I’d rather go home and chill.
  8. So I don’t go.

You don’t have to tell me what’s wrong with this picture. I know. I need to belly up to the bar and go to more mixers! The spirit is willing, but the flesh becomes weak…

I’ll try to do better.)

But back to my point. On the startup sources I follow, lately it’s the same malarkey day in and day out.

  • Yet Another Startup is profiled as the New Cool Thing. With a 95% chance it won’t exist in a year
  • Yet Another Startup is acquired “as a talent acquisition,” which means it completely failed and the founders were desperate for jobs
  • A startup is acquired, but nobody talks about the terms. So we don’t know who made money, or if anyone made money. If they did, did their payoff justify their risks and long hours? The acquisition is blessed as good news, even though we don’t have any data on which to evaluate it. So who the fuck knows?
  • Some asshole VC talks about how everyone should kill themselves at their startup so he can make a lot of profit and spend his days gnawing on a block of cheese
  • Someone says big-company developers should get more experience before going into a startup because they’re naive. Someone else says no they aren’t. Yes they are. No they aren’t. Repeat ad nauseam.
  • I have this awesome idea. Should I form an LLC or a corporation? I’m lazy and can’t use Bing or Google

I could go on.

After you’ve been in this business long enough, you’ve seen all the hoo-hah and the Next Big Thing. Younger workers dismiss you as no longer having The Right Stuff. For some, that’s true…as you age, you get other priorities in life. But while that’s true for some, I think young folks are generally whistling past the graveyard. After you’ve seen the same nonsense wordsmithing, claims, and PR spins, it gets boring. And easy to spot from a million miles away.

I’m in a startup and we’re trying to make a go of it. We may succeed, we may not. End of story. If you want to know more, get out there yourself and try to build something.

I’m not excited or happy for your exit/acquisition/merger unless you give me all the numbers. I want to know how much the founders made, how much employees # 1 – 20 made, how each investing round profited on a per-share basis, and how much the common stockholders got. Oh, and who got handcuffs to stay on, and whether the founders got under-the-table deals to sweeten their pot so they agreed to the sale. If you don’t give me that info, go play in the freeway.

End of rant.

1 comment
  1. John Utz said:

    Nicely put. I dont think you are unreasonably cynical. Absent material facts, there isnt any reason think these things turned out ok.

    if they did turn out ok, there would be reports to file with the SEC.

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