The New Road to Riches
How to get ahead in the postbubble world: Build a company cheap. Flip It fast. Repeat.
By Om Malik, October 01, 2004
The turning point on Iain Lamb’s unlikely road to riches may have come at that depressing moment when he was forced to part with his car. It was 2002, and Lamb and Ethan Diamond, two in the vast migratory herd of coders who’d made their way to Silicon Valley during the tech boom, were desperately struggling to ride out the bust. The high school pals from Colorado had jumped from a dying dotcom, where they had grown deathly bored by the company’s main business, designing spreadsheets. So they set about trying to create something that did interest them: a new Web-based e-mail service that would look and feel like a mainstay desktop program such as Microsoft (MSFT) Outlook Express. They didn’t really think it could lead to much; they just wanted to make their e-mail work better. “We didn’t see it as a great business idea at all,” Diamond recalls.
But that began to change when, after months of hard-core coding, they came up with a Web-based app that not only mimicked Outlook but in some ways improved upon it. Friends, mostly coders, raved about it. Eventually, popular blogger Dave Winer put up a link to the program on his website. Within hours the app got so many hits that the battered PC that Diamond and Lamb were using as a server crashed. “We realized this could be a real business,” says Diamond, who’s now 33. They formed a company and called it Oddpost.
This is actually a really well-written article, discussing the ongoing trend of small companies and ventures getting swallowed up by the giant companies. Because small companies are better at innovating than the large ones, and the large ones know it.
You can also read the article here in a full-page-with-ads version that is actually pretty cool.