Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Adventures in the Tech Trade

William Goldman, one of America's greatest ever scriptwriters once said "No-one knows anything in Hollywood." He was talking about the time before a release of a Hollywood movie. Whatever well-paid star, producer, director or gang of smart MBAs you have working on the picture, it doesn't mean diddly squat if Joe Public doesn't feel like paying ten bucks, and taking two hours of his time to watch it.

Well it feels a little like the Tech trade to me right now. Last week Google Wave, probably the most hyped tech product of 2009 was consigned to the rubbish bin of Tech history. If a company that has without question the most highly educated workforce on the planet, billions of dollars at its disposal and the ability to instantly tell millions of people around the world about it's product, and integrate it with some of the most popular services on the planet (maps, gmail, blogger etc) what chance does that give a tiny startup like us trying to create a "revolutionary" new product with only a handful of magic beans to our name?

Well I think the point Goldman was making in Adventures in the Screen Trade is that hits often come from the most unlikely places. Last year Slumdog Millionaire, a relatively low budget "foreign" movie, with a limited release initially in the US, went on to dominate the box office and sweep the Oscars. Only months earlier the US studios had refused to distribute it suggesting it should go straight to DVD in the US. At the last count the movie which cost $15m to make had taken over $380m at the box office. 

Earlier this year, Chatroulette, a webcam sharing service allowing users to find new friends (and more) became a web sensation. It was started by a 17 year old from his bedroom in Russia, at the same time that Google Buzz, another new service from Google was derided across blogs and media across the world.

I don't think there's a huge difference between creating a new Tech product and creating a new movie. Both need a fantastic producer, a visionary director, a great cast and a brilliant story. We all think we've got it. And sometimes, just sometimes, Joe Public agrees!