Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

“Startupery” is possible in “Silicon Prairie.”

March 28, 2014

Bob Metcalfe would like to see more student “startupers.”

The inventor of Ethernet, founder of 3COM and a professor of innovation at UT-Austin is on a mission to promote the term “startupery” as a better alternative to entrepreneurship. In a Friday talk here at Texas Tech University, titled “Startupery out of Research Universities,” Metcalfe argued that research universities are better outlets for research and innovation than traditional government labs.

After noting that the Internet was built by startups and not incumbent businesses, Metcalfe described seven components to his model for fostering technological entrepreneurial innovation (which at scale looks like Google, General Electric and IBM). Metcalfe calls the model the Doriot Ecology, which he named after late Gen. Georges Doriot, a Harvard Business professor who is known as the “father of venture capitalism.”

The seven components to the “Doriot model” include:
1)government funding agencies , which fund

2)research professors, who teach

3)students, who are the key vehicles to innovation for they carry new knowledge into the world and connect with or become

4)scaling entrepreneurs, people who know how to build companies (a principal asset of Silicon Valley)

5)investors,

6)strategic partners (established companies that help grow the business and reach of the startup) and

7)early adopters of the technology

While the major U.S. research labs were all established by monopoly businesses, with the Bell Lab held up as the pinnacle of American research and innovation, Metcalfe argues that we should expand the efforts at research universities and not try to recreate the Bell Lab experience.

Universities are better outlets for funding research innovation, according to Metcalfe, because universities are going to compete with each other (as they already do for funding from RFPs) and that they graduate students, who then serve as vehicles of innovation.

Metcalfe also noted the importance of developing technology to serve future customers and not to satsify present trends. He said that “time machines” allowed 3COM to beat its competitors.

“We had been to the future and our competitors had not,” he said. “We knew what to build. Our competitors did not.”

Metcalfe’s company was focused on developing Ethernet to connect personal computers in the early 1980s before personal computers were prevalent and mainstream because he saw future trends from working in the Xerox PARC lab.

Metcalfe also spoke of the travails from taking a product from idea to marketplace, pivoting along the way to meet consumer demands in order to avoid a “valley of death.”
“If you see a valley of death, you are not obligated to go charging into it,” he said. “If you see a valley of death, don’t (go).”

Jodey Arrington, vice chancellor for Research, Commercialization and Federal Relations for the Texas Tech University System said that his office (which sponsored Metcalfe’s talk) would like to create “Silicon Prairie” here in West Texas.

“Our ideas are every bit as good as Stanford and MIT … it’s just a matter of creating a culture (here).”

Of course, several research universities have begun to recognize the importance of “startupery” in the areas of media, journalism and mass communication by offering undergraduate and graduate courses on media entrepreneurship and innovation and developing media incubators, accelerators and hackathons.

Student “startupers” are becoming more commonplace, as evident by the Student Startup Madness competition held annually in conjunction with SXSW. The Student Startup Madness concept was developed by Sean Branagan, director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Here at Texas Tech, I’m fortunate to teach a course on Media Entrepreneurship, which is the capstone course among undergraduate Media Strategies majors, here in the College of Media and Communication. My college is committed to fostering “media startupery” and interdisciplinary collaboration and we’ve been buoyed by early student successes.

My university likes to say “from here, it’s possible.” Because he has the benefit of a “time machine,” Metcalfe must know that his vision of “startupery” will certainly become a reality.

Student “startupers” should and will emerge and continue to foster innovation, from Silicon Valley to Silicon Prairie, from coast to coast and points in between.

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Wilkinson at ISOJ: Newspapers must adapt in “age of micro media”

April 23, 2010

AUSTIN, TEXAS_ Newspapers have to adapt to the “age of micro media” in which every unit of content must have value, INMA chief Earl Wilkinson told attendees Friday morning at the International Symposium on Online Journalism.

Determining their content’s value should be a top priority for newspapers, because content value can serve as a proxy for engagement in the Digital Age, Wilkinson said during a fiery, impassioned presentation.

Even if  newspapers never charge for content, segmenting “content platform,  audiences” forces a market approach to growth and places them in the context of today’s “abundance of information,” Wilkinson said.

The traditional business model will not survive,  Wilkinson said.

“We clearly have reached a point where we need alternative funding sources,” he said.

Advertising will account for a smaller portion of a newspapers’ revenue, but won’t disappear entirely, Wilkinson said.  The pure value of content, however, keeps changing.  Newspapers must find ways to monetize content, which will require significant leadership and industry collaboration, Wilkinson said.

The global recession accelerated changes to the news industry.

“It’s transformed our business models and we’re never going to go back,” Wilkinson said.

Newspapers are going through transformation and evolution, but they’re not going to die, Wilkinson said.

The future media landscape will consist of less advertising and smaller companies, Wilkinson said. There will be less journalists, but more editors as print complexity is replaced by a digital one.  According to Wilkinson, newspapers should invest more in sales, marketing and research, while focusing on product development and speedy delivering of news enhanced through social media.

Wilkinson says that  “Value= Audience + content + platform”

I found myself often nodding in agreement during Wilkinson’s presentation because, in my humble opinion, he “gets it.”  His presentation, more than any other, has me fired up to present my paper proposing a new business model tomorrow.