The crumbling network of startupland

Posted on January 23, 2013. Filed under: startups, venture capital |

Lately I’ve been wondering if the startup community is becoming less connected than it once was. It certainly feels like the network is being diluted, and also that the average strength of connection between all nodes in the network is lessening…the primary culprit that is disconnecting us is sheer size…it is not surprising that as a network grows, the strength of connection between nodes dilutes…typically when this happens in an online network, the product and use case of the application which defined a network evolves…twitter isn’t what it used to be (heavier emphasis on content distribution away from multi-person conversation around content), Facebook isn’t what it used to be (pushed downstack to infrastructure layer, pushed experience into 3rd party environments), I never knew exactly what Linkedin was, but you get the idea…

So if the startup ecosystem is a network, and the volume of nodes in the network is pushing the limits of the original “application” which created it (building real technology companies)…it begs the question…must we let the initial application go and accept the new reality of the network?  My guess is yes…where the new reality is a maturing and fragmented market where innovation and creation happens more in vertical silos (industries) than in a horizontal community within one vertical (technology)…or said another way…if technology has largely eaten the world by now…it’s no longer technology that defines starting up…it’s now fashion, or auto, or finance, or foodstuffs, now tech-enabled, spawning industry specific community that is tighter nit and adequately intelligent to support innovation and starting up?

And what happens to the core users, who liked the first application and built relationships and behaviors before the network got too big?  I think they break off and find a new home for their network (see Branch re Twitter, Instagram re: FB), etc…so where do we go, who talked and learned together before a world with infinite content and blog posts and a sea of faceless seed funded founders?  Where do we find ourselves and begin to learn again together?  Someplace smaller?  Someplace with a higher barrier to entry…some place where the technology and challenges are harder… Maybe…it’s as though the infrastructure of coworking spaces, accelerators, public forums, and even capital…all the things that supported us and helped us form community when we were unnetworked…are the very places we can’t go anymore to find what we had…either the network has to contract or shard…wonder which will happen first

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5 Responses to “The crumbling network of startupland”

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Any chance you feel less connected because you have become so connected to so many? Basically an insider (part of a community) looking out instead of an outsider (smaller group of individuals) looking in.

dont think so…i can’t see a cohesive conversation happening anywhere…

1) Nothing lessens table manners as much as a smaller pie.

2) Authenticity

Contract or shard? Probably a bit of both. The fashionability of the “startup” scene will probably start to cool off as the amount of capital flowing into consumer web slows. I think you’re also dead on that communities will form around verticals and be made up of more diverse groups of people.

I think it’s sharding. Niche groups are forming around market verticals and technologies. Meetup groups are a good example, and fun to explore.

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    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)


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