Thursday, March 15, 2007

Atlanta Web Entrepreneurs Meeting

I finally got to one of the Atlanta Web Entrepreneurs (AWE?) meetings tonight. I've been on the group list but missed the first couple of meetings. It was fun and nice to see and hear various perspectives on Atlanta's (sad) entrepreneur environment.

The highlight of the night was the presentation from the founder of Paperback Swap. For a guy of 24 he has experience and wisdom well beyond his years. He presented their server farm structure and composition - what was neat is he started with the single server up to the farm they now have and showed the progressions and spoke about some of the challenges they had. Nice view from the trenches.

I'm not sure what it would take for Atlanta to spawn more startups. I arrived in Atlanta in '97 full of enthusiasm for the burgeoning Internet market. I spent many years working with startup companies, logging long hours helping to build a dream - and learning tons in the process. In the end they either flat out went bust or flamed out gradually. Unfortunately, much of what we learned didn't translate well into the enterprise computing environment. The fact that my search engine handled 300K searches each day, or that our website would do 1.5 million page views means very little in answer to a question, "so, how strong are you with J2EE?" (yawn)

From my perspective those years have not helped me to be employable in Atlanta, but rather have hurt: I'm always asked why I didn't stay long at these companies, but my answer that they were startups doesn't seem to satisfy. I think for Atlanta to be more startup friendly it needs a massive realignment of their mentality and attitudes toward people who participate. I have developer friends who will never work in a startup again because of the fallout of the web era. This is not good for Atlanta, and means we remain a town with big, boring corporate powerhouses that mostly want the more mindless and compliant drones. It means that Silicon Valley with Stanford, Berkley and Sand Hill continues to attract the best and brightest.

Ok, there: I can hop off my soapbox now... (puts back his pleasant hat)

No comments: