The ever present debate around whether Silicon Valley will retain its crown as the most important tech hub got fresh fuel this past week, first from a piece by Adam Lashinsky (yes, it will), and then from a Financial Times report (sub. required) seemingly refuting his conclusion (no, New York wins!).
The research behind the FT report claims the most entrepreneurial cities in the US are, in order, New York, Boston, Providence, and then San Francisco. The FT headline — “How New York stole Silicon Valley’s crown” — leads one to believe that somehow the research was comparing Apples to Big Apples. Of course, it was doing nothing of the sort. In truth, the FT’s uncharacteristic click bait was comparing Salesforces to Sandwich Shops.
Microsoft doesn’t have quite the money in the bank that Apple has (just under $100 billion as opposed to the more than $200 billion at Tim Cook’s disposal), but it has plenty to fund many, many years of experimentation as the Windows and Office cash cows slim down. The Steve Ballmer era at Microsoft was characterized by a protect-the-queen mentality that didn’t lose its grip until Satya Nadella succeeded him as CEO in early 2014.
It’s easy to denigrate some of the initiatives started or accelerated during Nadella’s tenure so far as the acts of a copycat, but the shift from “devices and services” has freed the Redmond giant to expand from its core while rethinking how it manages that core. When Microsoft has one of the best email clients running on Apple’s iOS, something profound has changed. Nadella is operating, in a no-longer-Microsoft-centric tech world, with interoperability on his mind.
Our industry loves a rashomon, and in the past year or two, our collective subject of debate has been Uber. Perhaps the fastest growing company in history (its numbers aren’t public, but we’ll get to some estimates shortly), Uber has become a vector for some of the most wide-ranging arguments I’ve ever had regarding the tech industry’s impact on society at large.
It’s not that Google, Facebook, Apple, or Microsoft didn’t evoke great debate, but all those companies came of age in an era where tech was still relegated to a sideshow in the broader cultural conversation. Microsoft was taking over the computer industry in the 1990s, Google the Internet in the early 2000s, Facebook and Apple the mobile and social world in the late 2000s. But Uber? Uber is about a very real and entirely new approach to our economy, a stand in for the wealth divide festering in the US and beyond, an existential rorschach testing your values around the role of government, the social contract, and the kind of society we want to become.
I love being part of naming something. It’s probably the flat out most fun you can have legally with your clothes on — but for many folks, including entrepreneurs, it’s the source of endless consternation.
It doesn’t have to be. Here’s how I think about coming up with a name for something — a company, a new product, even a project you might be working on.
Rule #1: Don’t Overthink It.
A name means nothing till those using it make it mean something.
So be willing to consider non obvious, even crazy names. Google? I mean, really, Google? And….Yahoo?! Alibaba? APPLE?
We at NewCo regularly throw around the term “NewCo” to describe the type of company that presents on our unique “unconference” platform in cities around the world. We thought it would be important to break down this term and describe exactly what we believe constitutes a NewCo. So, here’s an update on our original post, newly edited by co-founder John Battelle.