There was a time when understanding the entire landscape was simply reading PC Magazine, InfoWorld, or whatever the latest publication happens to be. I knew every shortcut, hack, workaround that existed on DOS, Windows and OS/2. When a new service pack came out, I would know exactly what it did, what aspects of the system it touched and whether or not you should upgrade. Where did this knowledge come from? Well – I had the last three beta versions of the service pack installed on the multiple computers I had at my disposable.
Whoever said ignorance was bliss is a genius. My “expertise” was absolutely based on ignorance. There was this whole computing world that just didn’t exist in my plane of existence. I only knew that IBM made PCs; SAP was that gooey liquid that comes out of trees. Ever since I came out in the world and became exposed to all this, I’ve never been able to catch up. Worst, each time I surface from my day job to survey the technology market I’m once again reminded of my ignorance. The computing universe just gets more and more complicated. Each day, new technologies keep get invented, deprecated and hyped. It is mind blowing. I always feel behind. I always feel like I’m missing the next big wave. However, unlike other times I’ve done this, this time, something has changed again. While I wasn’t watching, the engineers took the technology business back.To understand this better – one must go back in time. When Apple, Microsoft, Lotus and other computer companies got their start in the late 70s, the engineers were in charge. No one was paying that much attention to personal computers – the money was in mini-computers and mainframes. These early entrepreneurs brought in a sea change which changed the world as we know it. Yes – many of them were funded by the VC community, but with very little amounts of money. However, since then, the technology business changed too. High finance got involved and for nearly 2 decades – the only startup companies that became successful were ones funded by VCs. To start a technology business cost big money – software, hardware, marketing, sales, and human resources – millions and millions were needed to just get started.But, this has started to change a few years ago. All of these startup costs are heading straight to zero.