Paul Graham’s important message for entrepreneurs and users (Innovations in 5)

July 15, 2013

Here are the five stories we’re reading/watching today:

A Zipcar is parked at a lot, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013 in New York. The company is moving its headquarters from Cambridge, Mass. to Boston's Innovation District on July 15, 2013. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
A Zipcar is parked at a lot, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013 in New York. The company is moving its headquarters from Cambridge, Mass. to Boston’s Innovation District on July 15, 2013. (Mark Lennihan/AP)

1) Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham has an interesting piece titled “Do Things That Don’t Scale.” In the piece, Graham cuts against a very well-established grain, writing that start-ups need to steer clear of putting scalability first, aggressively recruit individual users and “make them happy.”

“For a startup to succeed,” writes Graham, “at least one founder (usually the CEO) will have to spend a lot of time on sales and marketing.”

But why don’t founders do this already? Graham offers a number of reasons, but this one stood out: Start-up founders don’t recruit users individually or seek to delight them because they’ve never experienced that type of treatment themselves. Graham also outlines why the “Big Launch” — the highly-coordinated, embargo-fueled splash that some start-ups attempt to generate — often doesn’t work in the start-up’s early days.

The entire post is quickly turning into today’s must-read for entrepreneurs and start-up enthusiasts, but the case could be made it is a compelling read for users as well. Graham, after all, is making the case for a better, more enjoyable, more exciting user experience — something users will likely find worth endorsing.

2) Brian Proffitt poses an interesting question on ReadWriteWeb: How will devices connected to The Internet of Things talk to one another and, once they’re all speaking the same language, what will they say?

3) Zipcar, the hourly rental company purchased by Avis Budget Group for $500 million earlier this year, is moving from Cambridge, Mass. to Boston’s Innovation District. The company scheduled a Zipcar parade for Monday. They parade was expected to arrive at the new office location around noon, reports Boston.com’s Chris Reidy.

4) In an informative long-read for Washington Monthly, Barry C. Lynn makes the case for why large companies should be steered away from “innovation by acquisition” and toward more and greater competition. In order to fuel this increase in competition, Lynn argues that the patent vaults of major tech companies should be opened, writing:

“If you think of Google as an innovative company, remember that it was the smaller companies it swallowed that actually developed most of its key components. These include YouTube, DoubleClick, and the ITA airline reservation system, as well as ten search companies that no longer compete with Google because Google now owns them. Much the same is true of Intel, Corning, Pfizer, and Microsoft. These giants don’t merely set standards for certain formats of semiconductors, glass, pharmaceuticals, and software. Their mastery over patents and markets empowers them to block or buy most any newcomer that might threaten their sovereignty. What technologies are developed, and how and where they are developed, is increasingly up to these small clubs of executives alone.”

5) And Rembrandt van Rin gets the Google doodle treatment.

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Emi Kolawole | July 15, 2013