I was there for web 1.0, bubble 1.0 and bubble burst 1.0.
In many ways those days made and shaped my professional life. I also got married and we had a our first daughter during that time so perhaps it influenced my personal life as well.
The thing about web 1.0 was that we as a tech startup industry pushed hard but had so many things against us. There was no meaningful open source resources, no github, no stack overflow, no wifi, no app store, no AWS, the list goes on.
But even worse the sheer number of high speed internet users was pretty small. In 1999 we had less than a few million broadband subscribers in the United States. That was the entire market! Can you imagine building something today for such a small base?
But as John Doerr famously remarked back then, the internet was underhyped.
Regardless of the market constraints and costs involved, VC backed entrepreneurs went on to build a lot of things. Many failed but some worked out and changed the world. It took a lot of experiments and pain but we pulled through. The Internet survived.
Which leads us to today.
There seems to be growing sentiments of unease right now. There is a feeling that ideas are small. Or valuations are out of control. Or the stock market will have a major correction. Or the boogeyman will come out from under the bed.
Some of this may be true and it’s not clear to me that all of this is bad even if some it turns out the case. Okay the boogie man would be bad…
But I can’t help but feel excited about the current state of our industry. All the constraints of Bubble 1.0 are gone. Literally, gone. And as a result we see startups and large companies with ambition, audacity and talent to tackle enormous challenges.
In the old days, the market leader at the time, Microsoft was obsessed with killing a browser company. That’s it.
Today our market leaders, are building open sources phones, autonomous vehicles, virtual reality, drone delivery, and wearable devices. We have startups obsessed and bringing to life crowdfunding for the underserved and new massively impactful products in finance, education and healthcare.
It’s clear that each generation likes to think their generation is more compelling than the next. The good old days as they say. As someone with gray hair and the beginnings of wrinkles around my eyes, I’m ready to say that these days are better.
A lot better.