Five Years Ago Everything Made Sense…
The best quote in this article is “Everything made sense except that nobody gives a shit.” When I think about trends in the networking space over the past five years, that is how I would summarize most of the efforts labeled “disruptive” or “revolutionary.” When I can, I attend various local Meetups, which like a quasi-sales call. I get to hear end-users talking about what they are working on, what issues they are facing, etc. Meetups are kind of like fishing, some days they are a complete waste of time and other days you catch a lot of fish and in my world information is fish. I like to hear what end-users are saying, what they are working on and what keeps them up at night.
My general view is that most end-users have no idea what leaders are talking about in startups and technology companies. Recently I was at Meetup where a founder of a prominent startup was the guest speaker. There was a noticeable disconnect between the speaker and the audience. The speaker was talking about web scale, how innovation happens, crossing the chasm all this startup cargo cult culture stuff from the 1990s and the audience was asking questions such as “we are not Google, so how would we do all this and why would I care?” The end-user disconnect I see in networking over the past five years is between attempts at things labeled innovative, or disruptive, or revolutionary and the realties of the market; which is the idea that everything makes sense in the story except that nobody gives a shit in the market.
We will design and engineer networks as a resource pool, which is the same way we build storage and compute. We will have location ubiquity. This was the thesis of a prior post. It is amazing to me how many bright people think in terms of resource constraint and scarcity. We should not be wasting days on the regulation and construction of the pipe, but rather build for the era of plenty. We should have a network that supports location ubiquity and acts as resource pool that can be provisioned to meet the needs of compute and storage. Too many people are spending too much energy on the past.
Which is what brings me back to the quote from the article to open this post. I think much of what entrepreneurs distill down to twelve slides and a nice story for a VC pitch is often detached from the reality of the business. I am guilty of this and I have to remind myself to constantly be tweaking the messaging until we find alignment with the market. The insightful entrepreneur knows how to tell a story to an investor that about making a sizable return on their investment through a simple story arc – yet telling a different story to a prospective customer that is about selling the customer a piece of technology that has tangible utility. If the utility of the solution is not high, it is doubtful that a customer will buy it.