Saturday, February 06, 2016

Clueless Tech Scene Partying Away Super Bowl 50

You may have heard that Super Bowl 50 is playing in the San Francisco Bay Area this year. I still think the football team that used to call San Francisco its home should change its name to the Silicon Valley 49ers, but that can wait.  The weekend build-up to our nation's prime secular festival transformed part of downtown San Francisco into something resembling a clean, normal city. I had very little to do with the festivities other than accept an invitation to a pre-party. The tech startup sponsoring the party had a chance to display competence and blew it.

The startup's app is completely dependent on data feeds and user interactions from another well-known tech company. The relationship resembles Zynga's early dependence on Facebook but even more tenuous and economically unjustifiable. I asked this particular startup's marketing person if they could survive without being parasitically attached to their host body. The person had no idea. I asked about their monetization strategy. They had none. I offered my observation that startups devoid of monetization paths typically disappear rather quickly. The twenty-something marketing person had no concern at all, as if the capital entrusted to their startup by early-stage investors was a lifestyle gift.

Ladies and gentlemen, the entire second wave of dot-coms that are about to crash and burn is populated by the kinds of people I meet at these tech mixers. Many of them have no business expertise, no planning ability, no marketing sense, and nothing besides some mediocre tech skill they extrapolate into a flashy single-purpose app. I did not see any point to this particular pre-party other than to have a good time on someone else's dime. I can even assess the startup team's immaturity by how ready they are to start their sponsored party. Chips and booze are not hard to come by but their late arrival reveals a startup founding team that has never performed basic logistics tasks. Hey kids, throwing a party for partners, analysts, and investors is not as easy as pulling a beer out of your parents' fridge.

Super Bowl money really cleaned up this town. The City finally found someplace to put the homeless this weekend besides in the way of tourists. Many of the tech people "working" their way through Silicon Valley startups stand a good chance of becoming homeless themselves in the next couple of years. Their lack of business acumen gives me short-sale opportunities, plus open social events where I consume free food and booze. I can eat and drink any of them under the table.