In some of Daniel Kahnemann’s books and any other business advice-type articles, you always seem to read the same argument: The thing important people all over the world would like to see is increased risk-taking in the workplace.
And having spent roughly seven years in the startup space, I’m starting to agree immensely with this sentiment. It’s the unique Gen Z-er feeling of boredom, flicking through startup ideas like your Tiktok feed only to realize that 99% of it - you’ve already seen it and that you’re exhausted.
The craving for true originality, just a little hit of dopamine for experiencing the new, it has become scarily real for me not only on social media but also in the startup space.
So let me tell you in my real voice right now, “It fell like scales from my eyes” when I read Nick Tredennick’s “Engineer’s View of Venture Capitalists” article; from 2001 and saw him claim that “VCs are sheep. They don’t take risks.”
Outrageous! The audacity he has to make such claims! After all, in terms of the type of investments, aren’t VCs quasi the risk-takers that keep our economy going?
“VCs are sheep.”
But Nick’s right. Particularly when focusing our attention on what really gets funded and who are the new hot companies. Already the mainstream terminology makes me wanna throw up: “Unicorn!” 🤮
Because, yes, after having hot meals delivered to your house and that absolutely not going great for years: Why not try now also to deliver cold food (aka. groceries) too but under a different brand name and a slightly adjusted business process.
And since this article is about keeping you engaged through quantitative originality, just tangentially, maybe conspiracies are popular these days because they’re less boring than reality!
But yes, this is what it has come to: In Europe, the hot “tech” Unicorns are: “Gorillaz,” “Flink,” and “Getir” - all grocery delivery startups with exactly the same market positioning and value proposition. They deliver food on bikes.
But not only does this situation confirm that VCs are indeed sheep, that they all baa the minute one baas - it also shows the level of risk aversion they exhibit.
Sure, here and there may be investors that fund radically new ideas, but isn’t it interesting that the evolutionary output VCs are curating usually just bubbles up boring stuff?
VCs don’t take (enough) risks. And neither do startup founders.
It’s funny because it’s true. In a way, the annoying South African dude on Twitter and the notorious lying woman posing as female Steve Jobs did/do one thing well: They’ve both gone all-in; mega bold and despite the odds stacked against them.
As an engineer that has been kept in check by founders and managers for years - since they always want you to factor in the business side while developing tech, I admire the boldness of true risk-takers — the insanity of wanting to settle on Mars or to blood-test everyone with a tiny pinch.
Sometimes, when I get told by my collaborators to deleverage risk; when they want me to ship something visible instead of going for my wildest technical dreams - when I want to blow up the scope, but they won’t allow me, I dream of the terrible things I’d do with their money.
The Utopia of Creative Freedom
I dream of the freedom to work on what I think is right - for how long I think is good.
I dream of not owing responsibility to my employers or financiers. The utopia of creative freedom, where no budget limitations, no sense of scarcity, or fear of failure exists.
I dream of a place where financiers understand my desire to take risks, a place where not only engineers have empathy towards the business but vice versa.
It’s there where I’d waste your hard-earned dollars on days of “unnecessary” and tangential work.
It’s where I’d rent servers to compute seemingly useless shit - where I’d blow tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere just to gather more, to you, irrelevant information.
If I had all the creative freedom in the world, I’d do “terrible” things with the money you invested.