Is bootstrapping killing innovation?

A lot has been made of the game-changing way new start ups can now test their ideas with very little money using free, online tools and pay-as-you-go computing like Amazon’s EC2 and S3. But now Clive Thompson, writing the latest issue of Wired, has challenged that idea, suggesting that this bootstrapping fashion is limiting the vision of new start-ups.

These days, Valley entrepreneurs tend to pick a cool (but niche) idea; bootstrap it with minimal staff, open source code, and rented server space; and then build a user base until some lumbering technosaur buys them up……This system is more fiscally responsible than the con-job IPOs of the dotcom boom — but it favors entrepreneurs with modest ambitions.

 However, says Thompson, maybe it’s just that truly revolutionary ideas are just plain hard to spot.

People sniffed at Google because they thought AltaVista and Infoseek had already “solved” search. Microsoft, too, was seen as a joke: Real men built hardware, not software. And as for eBay — dude, who’s gonna buy someone else’s cast-off Weebles?

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