Friday, May 24, 2013

The Unexotic Underclass

 Powerful, if cynical.

"You should care because the unexotic underclass can help address one of the biggest inefficiencies plaguing the startup scene right now: the flood of (ostensibly) smart, ambitious young people desperate to be entrepreneurs; and the embarrassingly idea-starved landscape where too many smart people are chasing too many dumb ideas, because they have none of their own (or, because they suspect no one will invest in what they really want to do). "


The Unexotic Underclass
The Unexotic Underclass
May 19, 2013
The startup scene today, and by ‘scene’ I’m sweeping a fairly catholic brush over a large swath of people – observers, critics,  investors, entrepreneurs, ‘want’repreneurs, academics, techies, and the like – seems to be riven into two camps.
On one side stand those who believe that entrepreneurs have stopped chasing and solving Big Problems – capital B, capital P: clean energy, poverty, famine, climate change, you name it.  I needn’t replay their song here; they’ve argued their cases far more eloquently elsewhere.  In short, they contend that too many brains and dollars have been shoveled into resolving what I call ‘anti-problems’ –  interests usually centered about food or fashion or ‘social’or gaming.  Something an anti-problem company  might develop is an app  that provides  restaurant recommendations based on your blood type, a picture of your childhood pet, the music preferences of your 3 best friends, and the barometric pressure of the nearest city beginning with the letter Q.  (That such an app does not yet exist is reminder still of how impoverished a state American scientific education has descended.  Weep not! We redouble our calls for more STEM funding.)
On  the other side stand those who believe that entrepreneurs have stopped chasing and solving Big Problems – capital B, capital P – that there are too many folks resolving anti-problems… BUT  just to be on the safe side, the venture capitalists should keep pumping tons of  money  into  those anti-problem entrepreneurs because you never know when some corporate leviathan – Google, Facebook, Yahoo! – will come along and buy what yesterday looked like a nonsense app and today is still a nonsense app, but a nonsense app that can walk a bit taller, held aloft by the insanities of American exceptionalism.  For not only is our sucker birthrate still high in this country (one every minute, baby!), but our suckers are capitalists bearing fat checks.
On the other other side, a side that receives scant attention, scanter investment, is where big problems – little b, little p – reside.  Here, you’ll find a group I’ll refer to as the unexotic underclass.  It’s rather quiet in these parts, except during campaign season when the politicians stop by to scrape anecdotes off the skin of someone else’s suffering.  Let’s see who’s here.

Keep reading here.

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