Reading List: No Good Ideas, Hack the Kitchen, Pay Me Email, Investigative Journalism, Turning Tables on VCs

These days, I’m juggling brain space among several sometimes overlapping, often in conflict, and always challenging questions:  Can large  corporations re-claim their startup cultures?  Are Silicon Valley’s best days behind it?  Will digital media destroy or re-invent journalism?  So, it’s no surprise that today’s Reading List reflects and informs these cogitations.

Often, when we talk about innovation we imagine the light bulb moment when a moment of insight leads to a bright idea. In this quick video, Docstoc CEO Jason Nazar argues that there are no good ideas.  “Ideas don’t matter, execution does,” he says repeatedly. I think he’s right, and have said the same to many entrepreneurs.  Yet if this is true, shouldn’t large organizations with great resources and resolve be better at executing innovative concepts than rag-tag startups?  And yet, it isn’t so.

A year ago, Guidewire Labs prescribed this approach to another Top 100 analog consumer brand.  The suggestion was more or less discounted, and ultimately ignored.  Now, Campbell’s soup is inviting developers to Hack the Kitchen.  As analog brands wrestle to be relevant in a digital world, I would bet we see more of these types of competitions.

I’ve always loved how Esther Dyson’s mind works.  When everyone else is dissecting the obvious, she finds a way to cut into an issue that brings it into unique focus.  In this post, she tackles the question of pay-to-send email and makes a case for an email economy of sorts were sender/receiver supply and demand, rather than delivery platform, set the price. While she’s specifically talking about a one-to-one communication channel, it’s got me thinking about how such a model might apply in other media.

In his review of John Kay’s Obliquity, Roland Harwood makes the case that Innovation may, in fact, happen best by indirect, and open means.  He uses the review to shore up his case for open innovation, a practice that most businesses embrace intellectually, but which in my observation is is terribly difficult to operationalize culturally and practically.

Okay, I know The Daily Show isn’t the definitive source for news, but this bit on investigating investigative journalism, satirical as it is, shines a light on the sorry state of global journalism.

Finally, sometimes, it’s nice to see the tables turned sometimes.  In this case, venture capitalist Dave Hornik shares the experience of raising August VI, August Capital’s $550 million fund focused on early stage startups and “special opportunities.”  Among the Sand Hill venture set, Dave stands out as both very bright and very kind.  This piece demonstrates both propensities.

If seeing the tables turned on investors scratches your itch for schadenfreude, you might want to  attend Global Technology Symposium in march in Silicon Valley.  The conference will include a “Reverse Pitch” event in which new venture capitalists and angel investors make their case to a panel of entrepreneurs.

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