In our interview with PayPal co-founder Max Levchin (see “Q&A: Max Levchin”) we heard the entrepreneur say how Silicon Valley has been overrun by an influx of underambitious startups. The ease of raising money these days, he said, means many entrepreneurs’ big ideas are easily confused with a product feature.
As it turns out, some others agree. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Nicholas Carr wonders “what’s behind innovation’s turn toward the trifling?” The author, once executive editor of the Harvard Business Review, rejects the notion that a sagging education system, taxation, or an unhealthy focus on short term gains is to blame. Carr thinks the focus on small-potatoes advances is a reflection of “vanity”—we only care about inventions like Instagram that help us express ourselves.
Could the problem be that company founders aren’t the missionary types they once were? Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, writing in the New York Times, critiques entrepreneurs who seem intent on finding an early, lucrative exit for their businesses. “Some people seem to think that getting acquired should be the highest aspiration for an entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. I disagree vehemently,” says Khosla, who argues that the tech giants we often take for granted today (Microsoft, Apple, and Google) are all products of similar entrepreneurial fever. Its symptoms? “Irreverence, foolish confidence, and naivety combined with persistence, open mindedness, and a continual ability to learn.”
Here’s to hoping this growing call for more innovation will be answered by Silicon Valley.
How AI is reinventing what computers are
Three key ways artificial intelligence is changing what it means to compute.
These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems
They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.
A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click
Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.
Surgeons have successfully tested a pig’s kidney in a human patient
The test, in a brain-dead patient, was very short but represents a milestone in the long quest to use animal organs in human transplants.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.