Saturday, September 19, 2009

Strategy as surfing a wave #2: More MORs (Moments of Recognition)

In the previous article, we saw how Internet wave hit IBM’s David Grossman. Let’s look at a couple of more examples how waves hit surfers.

PC-wave hits Bill Gates: This is how Bill Gates remembers PC-wave hitting him when he was 16 years old and his friend Paul Allen 18:

"As early as 1971, Paul and I had talked about the microprocessor. And it was really his insight that because of semi-conductor improvements, things would just keep getting better. I said to him, "Oh, an exponential phenomenon is pretty rare, pretty dramatic. Are you serious about this? Because this means, in effect, we can think of computing as free." It is a gross exaggeration, but it is probably the easiest way to understand what it means to cut cost like that. And Paul was quite convinced of that. So I would sort of say to Paul, "Well, you know what that means?" And he'd say, "Yeah, that is what it means." It is kind of fun to know this, and think, gosh, how are companies going to react, how are they going to respond to something that phenomenal? The early days were very slow moving, though. By the time I went to Harvard, all there was the 8008 chip. And the 8080 was just coming out, which was the first good general purpose microprocessor chip that Intel was coming out with.

Internet wave hits Jeff Bezos of Amazon:

Taken from this interview:

"I started working at the intersection of computers and finance, and stayed on Wall Street for a long time, ultimately worked for a company that did this thing called quantitative hedge fund trading. What we did was we programmed the computers and then the computers made stock trades, and that was very interesting too.

The wake up call was finding this startling statistics that web usage in the spring of 1994 was growing at 2,300 percent a year. You know, things just don't grow that fast. It's highly unusual, and that started me about thinking, "What kind of business plan might make sense in the context of that growth?" (Recall that the Grossman incident also occurred around the same time in February 1994).

1 comment:

  1. "Surfing the wave", like the example.

    I was reminded of Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers" and the example of Silcon Valley tycoons born within a couple of years of each other. Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steve Jobs...Similar age, they recognized and caught the same wave. Closer home in India, Narayan Murthy, Azim Premji, and Shiv Nadar were also born within a couple of years of each other. They did catch a similar wave.