Follow Balaji Srinivasan on Twitter

Balaji Srinivasan is a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, a top tier venture capital firm in Silicon Valley, which also happens to be one of the most interesting companies I know in any category.

In previous posts, I’ve urged people who are interested in feeling the pulse of the latest wave of technological innovation: follow Marc Andreessen on Twitter @pmarca.

(Note: By follow I actually mean read and sometimes even study the tweets.)

Now I strongly recommend you add Balaji Srinivasan @balajis too.

Here’s one of the issues that reading his tweets has helped me with and if you’re in a similar situation to one I often find myself in, it may help you too.

On riding through the inevitable storms of being early

I seem to find myself on the bleeding edge of reality often:

  • promoting jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan (1979)
  • East Village/Lower East Side NYC real estate (1980)
  • graphic trade station design for Wall Street traders (1987)
  • digital post production audio for movies (1988)
  • interactive multimedia (1990)
  • business on the web (1994)
  • pay-per-click advertising (2000)
  • one of the first “back in the pool” after the dotcom crash (2001)
  • video on the web (first in 1994, then returned in 2005)
  • neuromuscular integration at the mechanoreceptor level (2014)
  • It’s hard to be the guy who sees the inherent value in a thing when few else do, but for better or worse that seems to be how I was wired. I take no credit for it. I can’t really do anything else.

    The problem with being too far ahead is there is the risk of being discouraged by the poor reception you will inevitably receive…which can often last a long time indeed.This can cause you to do things like: a) give up, b) scale back your expectations, and/or c) not go “all in” even when you ‘know’ you’re right and thus miss out opportunities.

    That’s why I found this multi-tweet post by Balaji Srinivasan so fascinating.

    It not only lays out the inevitable “first they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win” truism, it also offers sound guidance on how to survive and move things forward so that you thrive when what you foresaw ultimately comes to pass.

    Here’s his post Balaji’s post.

    1/ Amazing how much in tech actually follows the “first they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win” pattern.

    2/ While the specific sequence is not immediately intuitive, a rationale exists for why these stages happen in this order.

    3/ “First they ignore you”: many potential threats on radar; most amount to nothing. So drawing attention to you by condemnation is free PR.

    4/ “Then they laugh at you”: if traction grows despite silence, next they attack your social network w/ ridicule. Goal: cut off support.

    5/ Few are willing to be laughingstocks and most new things are odd. Sarcastic ridicule can slow social propagation, stop or reverse growth.

    6/ However, if your new idea/tech provides an individual advantage, people may decide that economic benefit outweighs social cost.

    7/ If advantage is sufficiently great, the ridiculer faces mass defection. Now clear the disruption will not be stopped by sarcasm alone.

    8/ “Then they fight you”: gloves off. Verbal attacks continue but all tools of the incumbent are now deployed. Bans, fines, lawsuits, etc.

    9/ To get past “ridicule” stage an individual advantage works. But to get past “fight” stage, a network effect of some kind is very helpful.

    10/ The reason is that during “fight” stage your numbers usually still smaller. So need something to punch above weight during fight.

    11/ If/when their best start leaving to join you (“Can’t beat ’em, join ’em”) then you’ve started to win.

    12/ To accelerate process, find key individuals involved in ridicule/fight and flip them. Now who’s laughing? 😉

    13/ That is, if your new idea/tech generates resources, one of best uses thereof can be to target & flip key ringleaders of ridicule/fight.

    14/ One has to be careful about this; do not want to inadvertently incentivize ridicule/fight, or reward opponents more than allies.

    15/ Thus people you flip should ideally travel Road to Damascus & fight with zeal of a convert. This is incredibly demoralizing to opponent.

    16/ Conversion thus can’t be based on money alone, as mercenaries will flip again for highest bidder. Must win war of ideas.

    17/ Fortunately, in this war of ideas, the long game favors us. Because to be against technology is to be on the wrong side of history.

    You can follow Balaji on Twitter here: @balajis

    A video of a recent talk he gave:

    – Ken McCarthy

    P.S. For over 25 years I’ve been sharing the simple but powerful things that matter in business with my clients.

    If you’d like direction for your business that will work today, tomorrow and twenty years from now, visit us at the System Club.

Steve Jobs on Tools (1980)
When Mitch Kapor whupped Bill Joy (Computer Bowl, 1988)
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