Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Spoiled Under 30 Crowd

My older sister sent this to me via old-school viral marketing: The email forward.

Since I couldn't find a well-formatted version on the Web, I'm sharing it with you on my blog:

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When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were. When they were growing up; what with walking Twenty-five miles to school every morning...



BOTH ways...

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in hell I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it!

But now that... I'm over the ripe old age of thirty, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today.

You've got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a damn Utopia!

And I hate to say it, but you kids today, you don't know how good you've got it!

I mean, when I was a kid we didn't have The Internet. If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the damn library and look it up ourselves, in the card catalog!!

There was no email!! We had to actually write somebody a letter - with a pen!

Then you had to walk all the way across the street and put it in the mailbox and it would take, like, a week to get there! Stamps were 10 cents!

Child Protective Services didn't care if our parents beat us. As a matter of fact, the parents of all my friends also had permission to kick our ass! Nowhere was safe!

There were no MP3' s or Napsters! If you wanted to steal music, you had to hitchhike to the damn record store and shoplift it yourself!

Or you had to wait around all day to tape it off the radio and the DJ would usually talk over the beginning and screw it all up! There were no CD players! We had tape decks in our car. We'd play our favorite tape and "eject" it when finished and the tape would come undone. Cause - that's how we rolled, dig?

We didn't have fancy crap like Call Waiting! If you were on the phone and somebody else called they got a busy signal,that's it!

And we didn't have fancy Caller ID either! When the phone rang, you had no idea who it was! It could be your school, your mom, your boss, your bookie, your drug dealer, a collections agent, you just didn't know!!! You had to pick it up and take your chances, mister!

We didn't have any fancy Sony Playstation video games with high-resolution 3-D graphics! We had the Atari 2600! With games like 'Space Invaders' and 'Asteroids'. Your guy was a little square! You actually had to use your imagination!! And there were no multiple levels or screens, it was just one screen... forever!

And you could never win. The game just kept getting harder and harder and faster and faster until you died! Just like LIFE!

You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on! You were screwed when it came to channel surfing! You had to get off your ass and walk over to the TV to change the channel! NO REMOTES!!!

There was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday Morning. Do you hear what I'm saying!?! We had to wait ALL WEEK for cartoons, you spoiled little rat-bastards!

That's exactly what I'm talking about! You kids today have got it too easy. You're spoiled. You guys wouldn't have lasted five minutes back in 1980 or before!

The Over 30 Crowd

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wanted: Cougar Wingmen for Friday Night in Palo Alto

Perhaps foolishly, I accepted a journalistic assignment to cover the National Single Cougars Convention tomorrow night (Friday) in Palo Alto. So that I would not have to go by myself, I bought tickets for a few cougar-enthusiast friends.

Unfortunately, these friends who will not be named (at least by me) are chickening out, so I find myself with a few extra tickets for the event.

If any of my single friends are interested, I've got some free tickets with your name on them.

P.S. The very classy web site for the event notes that hotel rooms are available at a discounted $99/night. In case that helps make up your mind.

@jowyang and the Circle of Life

A hot news item out of Silicon Valley is that my old friend Jeremiah Owyang has left Forrester Research to form the equivalent of a rock supergroup by joining Charlene Li, Ray Wang, and Deb Schulz at Altimeter.

This is great news for all of those aforementioned rockstars, but it is also a classic example of the Circle of Life, at least as it applies to professional services.

When you first join an analyst firm like Forrester, the benefits far outweigh the costs. You get to leverage an established brand, which gives you tremendous access to the players within the industry. You have a sales force that takes care of the messy work of finding and squeezing money out of clients.

But over time, if you're good, you develop your own brand. And at some point, you start to wonder, "Hey, if I'm creating all this value for the analyst firm, why aren't I getting paid accordingly?"

Because while analysts make a decent living, the dirty secret is that a small number of stars generate a disproportionate amount of the value. Inevitably, the only rational move from a financial perspective is to leave the firm and hang out your own shingle, so that you can capture the majority of the value you create.

Jeremiah, Charlene, Ray, and Deb all built their brands thanks in part to their employers' platforms, but those same employers simply couldn't pay them enough to keep them on board. (But don't feel bad for the analyst firms; Forrester made plenty of money off of Jeremiah during the 2 years he was there)

The funny thing is that I've been around long enough to have seen the entire pattern happen before.

Back in the late 1990s, Forrester was riding high as the leading analyst of all things Internet, and two of its leading analysts were Julio Gomez (who was the big wheel on the online brokerage beat) and John Robb (who was an expert on e-commerce and platforms). Julio and John left Forrester, then teamed up with my first boss, Alex Stein, and formed Gomez Advisors.

Of course, over time Gomez Advisors grew into an analyst firm on its own, with its own analysts and associates, its own sales force, and its own support staff.

Because once you're on your own, the same economic factors inevitably lead you to the conclusion that the best way to leverage your brand is to expand your business, which eventually leads to hiring your own analysts and associates, who will someday develop their own brands and leave you.

That's the Circle of Life. And just because you know how the story turns out doesn't mean you can't enjoy the show along the way.