counter intuitive

Why do people think good ideas will be self evident? Why do we think that representatives of orthodox thinking will be the first to recognize – different ways to create value? And why don’t corporations develop methods for overcoming such foreseeable blindness?

…Google’s history backs up [the claim] that people did not believe [they possessed a] good idea to start with, no matter what we think of it today. I couldn’t resist looking up Google’s history after yesterday’s post.

The overwhelming evidence that people didn’t think their idea was good is, as this page puts it,

Reluctant to leave their studies, Page and Brin offered to sell their search engine for $1 million to AltaVista. To their disappointment, AltaVista passed, as did Yahoo!, Excite, and other search engines.

All the experts in the field passed.

More to the point, they themselves had little concept of the value of their idea. Google’s founders didn’t even want to start their business!

You could say the other companies were bound to their business models and inertia prevented them from changing. But the individuals at those companies also passed on those opportunities. Anyone who saw Google’s value today would easily have waited out a non-compete, but they didn’t.

This page confirms

In 1998, Google was launched. Sergey tried to shop their PageRank technology, but nobody was interested in buying or licensing their search technology at that time.

This page gives many more accounts of Google’s travails getting traction. The most relevant

Also in September [1999], BusinessWeek published a piece that praised Google but was also careful to adopt a skeptical approach about the notion that you could make a lot of money by focusing on search and selling ads: “But at a time when other popular search sites such as Yahoo!, Excite, and Lycos have all morphed into diversified entertainment portals, is there really a future for a pure, advertising-supported search tool?”

Now, you can say today that their product turned out to be great, but no one could decide then based on knowledge we have today.

They had a technology they believed in, not a product you could at the time say was good…

via » Four counterproductive myths about entrepreneurship, part Ia Joshua Spodek.

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