Silicon Valley’s derivative venture opportunity

And why we need to broaden our focus beyond primary startups

Markokenya

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Silicon Valley is the world’s largest innovation hub, and it doesn’t look likely to implode or shrink anytime soon. We have gathered in one place all the essential ingredients to make fertile soil: failure-tolerant investors + great universities + attractive climate and location = mecca conditions attracting brilliant minds and crazy dreamers.

Let’s not break it. Actually, like any great natural ecosystem, it’s always partly broken and it’s always breaking down in places and repairing itself organically. The tech giants have tilted the landscape, causing more serious problems than just a temporary unpopularity of billionaires and social media addiction. They’ve built a concentration of power that is unhealthy for innovation and competition. Venture capital becomes hesitant to fund projects that threaten the royal palaces. Historically we’re healthier when we do exactly that.

Another place that we’re broken is diversity. When you first move here you may feel we’ve done a great job hiring a diverse workforce. Then you realize that beyond the Indian people and the Chinese people, it’s all white people and a dusting of Europeans. No Latinos. No black people. No older people. No re-careering people from the corn belt. It’s a big blob of cultural uniformity. I recently walked into a wall of age discrimination in my last 5 months of job search, and came up empty-handed. I’m going to go back to Plan-A: my Salesforce consulting business is in financial trouble, but is salvageable. Once I save it, I can’t be marginalized by a snotty recruiter or hiring manager who believes only a thirty-something can perform brilliantly in this job.

There’s so much capital available in the US right now. VCs and banks have boatloads of cash. Startup founders who fit the valley’s unofficial profile (young, academically brilliant, STEM educated, geeky and possessing bold imagination) are being flooded with funding offers. Successful businesses are being offered loans at favorable rates.

Now let’s look at the underserved markets and their potential. What segments or groups are we leaving behind that could be nurtured to become financially healthy and rewarding? One obvious…

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Markokenya

San Francisco geek, entrepreneur, wannabe economist, mediocre equestrian