Chris Dixon had a provocative post on how young engineers choosing to join big companies like Google is bad for the startup ecosystem, a common sentiment among the folks that I have been meeting over the last few weeks here in the rekindled Boston startup scene.
But I'm not sure it is right for one simple reason: for the most part, young founders tend to breed stupid startup ideas. Not because they are themselves stupid, but because they lack the proper execution context.
And while there is a lot of merit to apprenticing at established (funded) startups, I'm not sure that most of these provide adequate execution context either.
So if context truly is king, what does the proper execution context look like? Ideally, the right context exposes one to a whole host of business problems that need solutions because the current ones are being provided by big dumb companies that have grown fat and complacent of the profits produced by innovations whose progenitors are long gone. This is even better when the problems can be solved through new innovation that is itself only possible as technology is shifting.
Let me take a local example: here in Boston we have an existing cluster around storage, anchored by one of the biggest, dumbest tech companies I've ever seen: EMC. If I were betting on disruptive startups, I'd much rather take the folks who have spent time selling billions of dollars worth of storage into big companies, government contracts, and just about everyone else. Certainly more so than the folks that have spent burned cycles trying to copy Dropbox or Carbonite because that is the context they understand.
One of my heroes, Alan Kay, said that the right perspective is worth 80 IQ points. In my experience, execution context is not dissimilar.