Recently, a friend and I discussed one of Fred Wilson’s bombastic one-liners:
Don’t be a Google Bitch, don’t be a Facebook Bitch, and Don’t be a Twitter Bitch. Be your own Bitch.
To clarify, Wilson said this in response to Twitter’s recent move to discourage app developers from making Twitter clients. Wilson is a VC, and for him, the biggest breaks are not when startups innovate within an existing platform/ecosystem, but when entrepreneurs take the leap to create new platforms and ecosystems. In other words, Wilson is asking all budding entrepreneurs to create new markets and to be more disruptive.
In a Tiger Mom kind of way, I can sympathize with this sentiment. It serves to push entrepreneurs to think beyond the most obvious product or solution and to consider some pain points that customers may not even recognize they have. In fact, I think it also rings true with some of Eric Ries’ philosophies on human capital – why waste talent on building something that’s below your potential?
However, these provocative words can’t deny the recent successes of companies that have built their products within these new ecosystems. Zynga, for example, has raised over half a billion dollars in funding and was profitable from day one. HootSuite, launched in 2008, has over one million users and is quickly growing as social media reaches the mainstream. Perhaps another Twitter client won’t be necessary, but I think that building within existing ecosystems can and will continue to produce valuable businesses.