That was a great read. I had never heard of this guy’s incubator or schemes outside his success at Atari. Pretty amazing. In INFOSEC, being ahead of time is what happened to Burroughs where they were running OS in high-level language on system where CPU had protections on per operation basis. Market valued raw speed and low cost over everything else. Mostly due to weaknesses of hardware. Decades later, there’s tons of apps running on languages with built-in safety on CPU’s slowly adding protection features. Like Bushnell, they were just way too ahead of their time.
It’s actually one of the shittiest situations to be in since the visionary sees the value of it but will likely fail in market if doing it. One in that situation must instead do inferior things repeatedly to succeed. Optionally continuing to watch out in case the environment changes in favor of execution of that idea.
Having worked at a couple of startups whose technology was clearly a couple of decades ahead of the industry they were serving, I tend to agree.
Never ever forget the saying “The second mouse gets the cheese”.
Bushnell’s story reminds me if when people in Silicon Valley actually made things, as opposed to just using software to help businessmen unemploy people.
“The net effect was that the venture community lost faith in Nolan,” says Calof. “They basically said to us, ‘We’re not going to continue to fund these companies as you go forward, because we don’t believe in them anymore.’”
It’s unfortunate and probably telling of something that this would happen to a genuine visionary, whereas Y Combinator, which is just shitting out hack work startups by the bucketload, can still place.
They were actually better at what they do. They’re brilliant at it. The trick is they focused on every aspect that leads to ultra-fast growth of a company for VC’s and founders' get-rich-quick dreams. It’s basically growth hacking applied to everything that might become a new market. Or perhaps trying to get every First Mover advantage you can in a scatter the seeds far and wide way. That’s on top of their model of minimal investment with a bootcamp, educational resources, plenty postmortems, and fraternity-like environment of alumni that increases odds of success. So similar to what boosted elites in other fields to success that I’m surprised it took that long for a group to invent the YC model.
Whereas, Bushnell was focusing on specific tech he wanted to create regardless of how the market would respond (adoption/growth) or technical feasibility (opposite of MVP). The latter two reward inventors the most regardless of what they intend to do with that success. He was punished for fighting against human nature essentially. I endured the same punishment for a long, long time. My future work will try to inject The Right Thing within a Worse is Better offering of my own or many others. Hardest to do it once company becomes huge in market it’s creating or taking. Easier for startup to mid-sized companies still flexible. Easiest if I just knew which of these startups would succeed ahead of time so I can just bake the good stuff into it early on. If only haha.