there are plenty of ambitious startups in energy, healthcare, and education, areas that sorely need innovation. But fascinating technology startups, companies who want to allow regular people to do new stuff in their daily lives? Few and far between. Take a look at Paul Graham’s ideas for frighteningly ambitious startups. Now take a look at the last 30 or so startups on Techcrunch. Where are the people thinking big? What I see is people filling ever-smaller niches in this “ecosystem” or that “ecosystem.”
There’s a lesson to be learned here that can be applied to a lot of other endeavors. If you find yourself sitting down to work on something, ask yourself this: am I just creating what amounts to “talk radio” (as Om Malik put it) — something to fill in a niche? Or are you stepping back as far as you can and looking to build something that simply isn’t there at all in any form?
We need more technology companies that are technology companies, not just glorified sales or advertising systems. We also need more creative work done, in this space and elsewhere, by people who come from vastly dissimilar walks of life and can bring to the table a broader sense of what’s not out there and what needs to be done. The alternative is a thousand micro-clones of Facebook, when one of those was bad enough as it is.