18 March 2011
To bring everyone up to date:
- Justin Vincent wrote a post offering an opinion about the downsides of the chase of tech entrepreneurs over VC funding.
- Amy Hoy wrote a post expanding on Mr Vincent’s post.
- Alex Payne wrote a post criticizing this position, while finding it necessary to describe “long time acquaintance” Amy Hoy’s product as “duping credulous customers into overpaying for a time-tracking tool styled with this month’s CSS trends.”
- Unaccountably, he seems to have been surprised by the negative reaction this post generated, so he posted an explanation and partial retraction here.
Sadly, I find his last post as incoherent as his first one is vitriolic.
Rather than go through it point by point, the crux of his argument is:
Building a business around maximizing your individual happiness is not particularly useful or admirable. That is my position, and I’m well aware that it may be unpopular with some.
I am pleased to report, then, that Mr Payne has absolutely nothing to worry about, because no business that is built around the happiness of the owner as a primary goal has a hope of every getting anywhere, unless the business consists of the owner taking money out of one pocket and putting it in the other. Any business, unless it is operating in a grotesquely distorted marketplace, is primarily about pleasing its customers in exchange for their money.
I’m really not sure what these vaguely masturbatory companies Mr Payne is talking about do for a living, but every (successful) micro-business I know of is insanely, intensely focused on pleasing its customers. They have to be, because they don’t have an installed base, government-granted advantages, or (yes) piles of venture capital in the bank to fall back on if they fail to do so.
Mr Payne wants to run a big company. I wish him all the best. He seems to have his young heart in the right place. I have to say, though, that his emotional overreaction to the idea that someone might want to run a micro-business instead strikes me as the Puritan reacting to the idea that someone, somewhere, might be happy.