August 25, 2007

A Saturday Silicon Valley Experience

Earlier this week, I got a call from a pair of former colleagues with whom I had worked at a small Internet startup right out of college, who I hadn't heard from for the better part of five years.

At the beginning of the decade, we had worked on some great Web-based tools that were seemingly years ahead of their time - online meetings, unified messaging and communication, Web OS's and the like, but as the market fell, so did our chances. Now, as the market for Web tools has heated back up, and the stock markets occasional hiccups haven't stopped innovation, they're actively thinking aloud - should we get back into the game?

So, in typical Silicon Valley fashion, we met at a cafe in Palo Alto this morning, and amidst the bustle of college students and working staffs grabbing latt├ęs on a slow Saturday, we caught up, as friends, on where mutual acquaintances had landed, how they were doing in their new careers and catching them up on how my own life has changed, from when I was a green 22 year old out of Cal to my more seasoned 30 now - how my roles have changed in the office, as well as how I've handled life's constant change. We also traded ideas on where technologies were headed, where I thought there were holes, and how in a crowded market, one could differentiate through quality, ease of use, price or marketing.

Even if they don't start something new, and even if I'm just watching, I greatly enjoyed the discussion. I like the culture of pursuing new ideas in the name of bringing new products to market, and seeking solutions to every day problems, using advanced technology.

Many startups owe themselves to the bantering of ideas in restaurants and business models drawn up on the backs of napkins as waiters bustle to and fro. I just like being part of it and knowing I belong.