Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Curse of Too Much Capital

Leading weeklies are proclaiming the death of Silicon Valley, and technology blogs are carrying "Layoff Trackers," which their readers devour with a combination of fascination and dread.

Indeed, if you believe the popular press, it seems like the tech bust of 2000-2002 was just a precursor to what is likely to come over the next several years ... a nuclear winter for technology startups.

But does this need to be the case?

Perhaps if a startup raises $10 million in funding which the VCs are trying to claw back using every trick their lawyers can conjure up.

But who needs $10 million to start up an Internet company these days? Unless you are starting a search engine that indexes 10 billion pages and are maintaining a 5000 server farm data center to return results in a millisecond, you pretty much need just a few smart programmers, some good designers, and a hosting package.

With a lean structure like that, you can run a company for several years as long as it can generate a few thousand dollars of revenue per month. And if a company cannot generate a few thousand dollars of revenue per month, it should not be a company.

And so, perhaps this global recession will have some beneficial effects for startup companies ... by creating ones that are built to last and don't need to suffer from the curse of too much capital.