Lie, Tweet ... and Uber
To get an investment or an employee, you have to lie, at least according to Danny Crichton, writing in TechCrunch (“Startups And The Big Lie,” July 25). He seems to think that unless you have a talent for the long con, no one will invest and no one will work for you. Venture capitalists and potential employees, he said, are getting smarter, and if you can’t pull off some overwhelming sales job, based on simply convincing them, you will never make it.
Crichton says that employees in Silicon Valley have been burned so many times with unkept promises that they are gun-shy. You have to sell them on the company, and you have to lie, lie, lie. If anyone knew the real financial backing or the true forward-looking numbers, they would be sitting in your bedroom with your dog. And it would be eying the door.
I know he’s talking about well-intentioned lies, lies that aren’t really meant to mislead but to embellish. Lies that will get you the engineer you need, or the $40 million that will carry you to the “next level.” After all, without that engineer or that money, there is no hope of success.
I know I’m not the best person to be talking about business models, but I have always wondered about a company or individual that starts up and on day one has an “exit strategy.” I wonder if Bill Gates or Steve Jobs or the guys at Google or Facebook had an exit strategy. Maybe they did, but I doubt if they were serious.
It seems to me that if you want to hire good people, you need a commitment, a kickass idea, and a way to make it happen. You need the perseverance to see it through − your money, your mortgage, your life. Twenty-hour workdays, fresh thought and, I will say it again, perseverance.
If you go into some project with the upfront idea on how you are going to get out, then that commitment isn’t there, and you probably do need to lie to get employees or capital.
I always wonder at companies that take the VC bucks and immediately move into better digs, buy top-of-the-line office furniture, increase everyone’s salary, line the parking lot with something from Stuttgart or Munich, and then think: Now what?
They speak of “burn rate.” How long can we survive on the money we have? Shouldn’t they have worried about that in the beginning? Maybe if they had, they wouldn’t have to embellish or, to put it another way, lie.
If you find an investor that wants good return, a solid investment, and who trusts you with their money, then you will grow to the next step. Investors that don’t care about anything except owning the next Twitter or Uber may be OK for some, but will they care at all about your product, your idea, your imagination?
I doubt it, no matter how well you lie.
I had two Twitter events one day a few weeks ago. First of all, a woman that I follow, Kathleen Laney (@laneysolutions), posted a piece about finding leaders — they are neither born nor taught but found, she said. I retweeted and told her I liked it.
Laney responded that she would be glad to help find a leader or two for companies in the parking industry. I told her I had a friend who was desperate for senior people, and put the two of them together. Within five minutes, they were emailing and the rest is history.
I also got involved in a “Twitter conversation” between Manny Rasores de Toro (@mrparking) in London and Conrad Lumm (@myparkingsign) in Brooklyn. Conrad posited that 90% of the cars may be gone off the street and what were we going to do with all the leftover parking space? Manny noted that that wasn’t going to happen soon.
And, from LA, I jumped in with my usual shtick. I said that it could either happen, or not. … Conrad came back with, that if we were going to talk philosophy, try Wittgenstein. I said there was always Schrödinger’s cat (Google it).
It was fun and, amazingly enough, a bit thought-provoking.
That day on Twitter, I learned about Mcity in Ann Arbor, range anxiety in the UK, parking woes in Paris, and in-ground sensors in Sydney, plus tons of information on parking rate adjustments nationwide and the usage of pay-by-cellphone in a dozen cities. And that’s only in the first four hours.
These are short tidbits, but if they catch your eye, then you can follow the link to the story and who knows? You need to invest only 5 or 10 minutes two or three times a day, and you will be surprised what you might trip over.
There are more than 180,000 Uber drivers in the U.S. plus a huge number behind the wheels of Lyft, Sidecar and the rest. These companies aren’t just taking business from taxis. They also are reducing the number of trips driven by average citizens who now find it easy and “hip” to use Uber. (Uber sold $10 billion worth of trips last year.)
And each one of those is a vehicle that didn’t park in a parking lot at the end of its trip!
Business travelers who normally rent a car at the airport may find it easier to take Uber than pick up a car or take a taxi. More and more airports are allowing Uber and their ilk to pick up on the airport. Certainly, it may be easier and cheaper to take Uber — the cost is less than a taxi, there is no gas to cover, and no parking fees to pay every time you go to a meeting.
Yikes — what is happening? Is the parking industry going the way of the dodo bird and buggy whip?
It seems we are attacked from every side. Environmentalists want to do away with cars, period. Every government agency is trying to discover a way to reduce trips into the central city, without, of course, supplying an alternative. Cities are raising on- and off-street parking pricing, and increasing taxes on private parking facilities – not a good way to entice folks to drive downtown. Now it’s Uber and Lyft. What next, teleportation? “Scotty, beam me to Third and Fairfax.”
I think we need to be concerned but not panicked. One of the benefits of Uber is that drivers can now drink without fear of a DUI or worse. How can the parking industry help that? Ever consider supplying a driver for the return trip? I want to take my car and drive my friends, also have a few pops. How much would I pay for that privilege? Partner with Uber — drive one-way, Uber back?
I think it’s time we started thinking outside the box, or parking space.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to drive if someone can pick me up at my house five minutes after I “call” (texted) and drop me off at my destination for less than the cost of gas and parking. And vice versa.
How can we make parking so attractive that people will drive just to be able to park? They say no one goes somewhere for the parking. Why not? Ever thought about it from that point of view?
Of course not. We would rather grouse and complain about the inevitable. Companies that are nimble, think outside the box, see possibilities, use every bit of bandwidth and media available, will survive and thrive. The others will not, at their peril.
Hire someone under 30, make them your VP of Innovation, and then listen to them. It won’t be long ’til the rest of us are too old to drive anyway.
Follow me on Twitter @jvhpt and
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