Great taste is underhyped

One piece of advice that is often cited in startup land is the idea & importance of building a monopoly or a moat strategy.

I get it. The desire to build something defensible and durable for the ages requires something that suggests you can withstand competition.

But in the software/tech world it is immensely difficult, if not impossible to build a monopoly. There are just too many creative entreprenuers and talented people to build an everlasting moat.

Throughout my career, I find myself drawn to founders less interested in building a monopoly and more drawn to founders with exceptional and extraordinary taste. It’s rare but when you see it, well, it takes your breath away. In fact, I think taste is one of the most under appreciated attributes of a product inspired founder.

Steve Jobs calling Microsoft out for a lack of taste back in 1995 sums up the point:

“The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste, and I don’t mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way, in the sense that they don’t think of original ideas, and they don’t bring much culture into their product.”

There are no text book ways to develop great taste. It doesn’t come from countless A/B testing or cloning some successful feature in another app. It often is derived from a some unique combination of vision and talent. And always comes from the heart.

Flawed like the rest of us

For those that casually know me or know me personally, it’s no secret that I’m a Democrat and aligned with progressive issues.

And I am all in on the upcoming United States presidential election. I have made several financial pledges to the Biden campaign and the DNC, and we will continue to do more.

For some, getting involved in this election is obvious. The current US President is incompetent and corrupt. We all know countless examples, and I’m sure it’s all just the tip of the iceberg.

For others, the presidential election is met with cynicism. “Donating to this campaign won’t make a difference“. Or “Joe Biden is flawed because of xyz”.

With regards to the first point, does your vote and donation matter? I would humbly submit that your vote and donation matters a great deal. Recall that the current President lost the popular vote by millions of less votes nationally, — and yet still won the highest office because he won by a tiny amount of votes in just three states.

The second point is even more critical. Yes, Joe Biden is flawed. He made mistakes during his time in the Senate and the White House. And yes, Biden has made mistakes on the campaign trail and guess what? He will continue to make mistakes.

But here’s the thing. I believe Vice President Joe Biden is running for President for the love of his country and for all Americans. His mission and vision is well aligned with progressive issues around healthcare, civil rights, education, and the environment. Under his presidency we will have a historic woman Vice President and Supreme Court that isn’t beholden. Joe Biden has demonstrated a heart felt empathy and care for those most in need. I sincerely believe that is his motivation for getting back into politics.

The current President doesn’t have that same motivation. He doesn’t care about most Americans and certainly doesn’t care about the most vulnerable and in need. He lacks empathy and understanding. In fact, it’s pretty obvious he truly own cares about his own self-interest and the most powerful amongst us.

I implore you to get involved in this campaign. Be an influential force with your family, neighbors and community. Get others committed to vote. Create a chain reaction. And critically, I encourage you to please make a donation to the Biden campaign, of any size.

This election will be the most important one in our lifetime. Yes, Biden is flawed. Just like the rest of us.

Wind of Change

I have been completely taken by the podcast series Wind Of Change. It an 8 part podcast that reveals the CIA’s hand in the 90’s hit single, Wind of Change by the German rock band, Scorpians. Rolling Stone has a story about this podcast and how it all happened. I highly recommend giving it a listen. Unfortunately, the series is only available on Spotify instead of the open internet, thankfully it’s not behind a Spotify paywall.

Listening to the song and the podcast and it’s easy to understand how and why this one song became the rallying cry for hope and freedom during the end of the Cold War.

Music has that power.

We all know the impact of music in our own country during the Civil Rights era. Music intertwined with civic activism. It served to release our frustration. Our desire to reject the status quo. To breathe hope into life. To aspire, connect, and push for something better for the nation and the world.

Of course, there is a meaningful contrast between the CIA backed Scorpian single and Bob Dylan, CCR, Same Cooke, Nina Simone and others. These 1960s protest artists wrote songs from the heart that gave voice to hope and change.

Music has that power. And I can imagine protest music coming back to our lives as we face enormous challenges at this moment.