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A horse, a cow and a deer

We all like making predictions (and like being right). That's fine when we are doing that for fun.

When it comes to business, you'd better "know your shit" (and know when you don't).

Getting married to own views and assumptions can cost you money or your (corporate) life. Just ask Kodak, or AltaVista (who refused to buy Google for $1m...)

Big mistakes are not black swans. Some companies makes them again and again: for example, Bessemer Venture Partners passed on the opportunity to invest into FedEx seven (!) times... At least Bessemer have guts to admit that: their "anti-portfolio" reads like "Who is who in Silicon Valley" - it includes Google (“How can I get out of this house [without talking to Sergey and Lary]?"), eBay ("Stamps? Coins? Comic books? You've GOT to be kidding!"), Apple ("$60M valuation is outrageously expensive."), HP, PayPal, Intel etc. (Bessemer got it right many times too...)

Bessemer's "anti-portfolio" should serve as a stark warning to all those who think they know. Things change all the time. When I just started in the financial markets, I was taught by seasoned veterans that "everything is foggy - be vigilant at all times". Yes, that fog may clear for a moment to give you a sense of direction, but don't let your confidence turn into arrogance - you may find yourself talking to the lighthouse.

Nobody (!) knows for sure what technology or business model will prevail in mobile payments. We are looking up at Apple and Google, forgetting that 87% of companies that were in Fortune 500 in 1955 are no longer in the list (no, I am not predicting demise of those "horsemen of tech").

NFC, BLE, QR, card schemes, EMV, cloud - many of those things will pan out tomorrow not the way we envisage today. As Bulgakov put it in "Master and Margarita": "Annushka has already bought the sunflower oil, and has not only bought it, but has already spilled it." That ominous oil spill could derail plans of some top players, whilst greatly helping the others. Most of us are simply not (and cannot be) aware of that.

My message is simple. Keep your eyes and ears open, but don't believe everything you see or hear. Keep your mind open and don't be afraid to challenge your own opinion. When somebody knocks on your door, don't turn them away without digging deep. It could be the next "Google".

P.S. As to the title, it refers to the 2nd paragraph. (And here's the correct answer.)


Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 31 July, 2013, 11:01Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Great post! As they say, death and taxes...

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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Innovation in Financial Services

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