Don’t paint with a broad brush in this downturn

We are still in an marco economic mess.

I’m not going to pretend to predict when we will get out of it.

But there is something very familiar about this down turn as the last downturn.

There are some folks (VCs, press, bloggers, entrepreneurs, bystanders, critics) that have decided to paint with a broad brush.

That happened in the Web 1.0 crash.

In those days, some people said generically:

1. Too much money chasing too few deals. And they got out of this startup ecosystem business. Thankfully many stayed in the game or jumped in.

2. Startups can’t succeed in the consumer electronics space. Thankfully Sling & Flip didn’t listen.

3. Ecommerce is dead. Thankfully, Netflix, Amazon, Zappos and others didn’t mind those naysayers.

4. Free is dead. Thankfully TripAdvisor, Skype, MySpace, Facebook, Google and many many many others ignored them.

5. Open source is dead. Thankfully MySql, RedHat, jboss and many others ignored them.

And now in downturn 2.0 we are hearing many people make grand statements about big markets, like:

1. Online video is dead

2. Social networks can’t make money

3. Where is the business model in open source

4. Venture is dead

5. I’m only investing in things with “proven” business models.

6. Free doesn’t work.

7. There isn’t a business model with online music.

Sound familiar?

Look, here’s the thing. There are plenty of bad ideas out there and mistakes are being made. And there are good ideas with poor execution or other challenges.

At the same time there are people inventing stuff and executing like crazy. There are people innovating in almost every category and inventing new ones along the way.

I’m an optimist. I believe you can’t be an optimist only in good times.

Build a great company in any category you want.