Greg Kostello is moving fast – but he’s also not in a hurry. An entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in early-stage ventures, startups, and high-tech leaders like Apple and Netscape, Kostello is now building a new company.
“It’s an online media play,” he says, careful not to give away too much to a reporter asking a lot of questions. A launch date? “Probably in about a month,” says Kostello.
Based on that time estimate, one would be excused for thinking his venture is in the home stretch. “We started putting it together a couple days ago,” Kostello says.
Has the concept of “eight-minute speed dating” invaded the world of Internet startups? No, but commoditized hardware and open-source software have.
Kostello is one of a growing number of entrepreneurs who are experiencing first hand how much faster and cheaper launching a company is today, compared with even five years ago, thanks to the ever-decreasing cost of hardware and steady improvements in open-source software.
“We spent millions developing systems at MP3.com that are readily available today for free,” says Kostello. Open-source software covers a wide range of products, all with one thing in common: the source code is freely available to all to use and modify.
Despite the current hot-and-cold economy, don’t look for technology company launches to slow down. In fact, because of the improvements to open-source software and the commoditization of hardware, they’ll likely increase. These developments “lower the risk of starting a company,” says Kostello. “Since you don’t have to put out a lot of capital to start, you’re going to see a real creative wave of products.”
Travis Kalanick, CEO of Red Swoosh, has watched this development for years. Prior to starting that distributed networking company, he co-founded Scour.net, an early peer-to-peer outfit (it was eventually sued out of existence by larger entertainment companies). When starting Scour.net in 1998, they’d used open-source software and commodity hardware – an unusual approach in those days.
“Most people didn’t think that way in 1997 and 1998,” Kalanick says. “People got millions from VCs, who wanted them to spend it as quickly as possible, and a lot of companies didn’t think to be cost-conscious when it came to technology.”