I played hooky last Friday afternoon to see Aaron Sorkin’s story telling of the Facebook story via the Social Network film.
Since then, I’ve reflected on the implications of a movie based in SV and my industry. If something good comes of this new visibility, I hope it helps us make 3 decisions well.
First, the hero of the story is the openness of the web and we ought to be doing more to preserve it. Initially advocated by Tim Berners Lee and supported by an every day hero of Tim OReilly (and many others), the web has been a open platform that anyone can play in. That is at risk today with the Net Neutrality discussion going on. Rather than capture my own thoughts on this, I will defer to the much more articulate expert on the topic: Lawrence Lessing:
For less than $1,000, Mark Zuckerberg could get his idea onto the Internet. He needed no permission from the network provider. He needed no clearance from Harvard to offer it to Harvard students. Neither with Yale, or Princeton, or Stanford. Nor with every other community he invited in. Because the platform of the Internet is open and free, or in the language of the day, because it is a “neutral network,” a billion Mark Zuckerbergs have the opportunity to invent for the platform. And though there are crucial partners who are essential to bring the product to market, the cost of proving viability on this platform has dropped dramatically. You don’t even have to possess Zuckerberg’s technical genius to develop your own idea for the Internet today. Websites across the developing world deliver high quality coding to complement the very best ideas from anywhere.This is a platform that has made democratic innovation possible—and it was on the Facebook platform resting on that Internet platform that another Facebook co-founder, Chris Hughes, organized the most important digital movement for Obama, and that the film’s petty villain, Sean Parker, organized Causes, one of the most important tools to support nonprofit social missions. The tragedy—small in the scale of things, no doubt—of this film is that practically everyone watching it will miss this point. Practically everyone walking out will think they understand genius on the Internet. But almost none will have seen the real genius here. And that is tragedy because just at the moment when we celebrate the product of these two wonders—Zuckerberg and the Internet—working together, policymakers are conspiring ferociously with old world powers to remove the conditions for this success. As “network neutrality” gets bargained away—to add insult to injury, by an administration that was elected with the promise to defend it—the opportunities for the Zuckerbergs of tomorrow will shrink. And as they do, we will return more to the world where success depends upon permission. And privilege. And insiders. And where fewer turn their souls to inventing the next great idea.” (more of his post is here: http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/78081/sorkin-zuckerberg-the-social-network?page=0,1)
The 2nd decision is really a call to arms for my fellow Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, VCs, journalists, angels and extended community. We need to refocus and have our % of time allocated to creating value, not talking about creating value.
“TechCrunch is known for our parties. That’s how I met all my sources in the early days. These days, we do three big blowouts every year, five or six smaller events, and then a few small parties. It winds up being an event every month, and I try to go to all of them. I started the tradition when I first moved to Palo Alto in 2005. I wrote a blog post inviting people to a party—10 people came. I made hamburgers. We drank beer and stayed up until 4 a.m. drinking Scotch by the fire. Two weeks later, I had another party, and 20 people showed up. About 100 people came to the next one, then 200. Venture capitalists were smoking pot in my backyard and passing out on my couch.”
3rd DECISION: Privacy Management