ND Indies and the Silicon Valley Establishment

Author: Notre Dame ESTEEM

Some observers have suggested that Silicon Valley is following the path of its older creative California sibling, Hollywood, by seeking safe sequels to proven winners rather than pushing the envelope with riskier new inventions.

Hollywood depends on remakes, sequels, and prequels to keep the cash coming – 16 of the 20 highest-grossing movies ever are follow-ups in some movie franchise. From a business point of view, that makes sense: it protects the massive investment required for much modern moviemaking.

Social Media Is the Silicon Valley’s Sequel

TechCrunch author Danny Crichton says Silicon Valley is repeating the pattern. “Venture capitalists have long ago discovered that social media is where the money is,” he says. “Facebook remains the largest technology IPO of all time, and WhatsApp is the largest venture-backed acquisition of all time. And they are hardly exceptional.” Facebook’s market cap is now $175 billion, while Twitter is worth $30 billion and WhatsApp was recently acquired for $17 billion.

That kind of payoff explains many investors choose not to risk cash on rare and unique ideas that might create entirely new product categories and disrupt markets. For venture capital, that uncertain “might” usually tips the decision against funding.

Independent Ecosystems: Sundance Institute and Notre Dame’s ESTEEM Program

With so much of the establishment playing it safe, bold creativity is moving elsewhere – the Sundance Institute, for example, in filmmaking; Notre Dame’s ESTEEM Program, for example, in entrepreneurship. ESTEEM is an out-of-the-box vision aimed at empowering the next wave of innovation. It is part of a broad Notre Dame startup ecosystem that supports new ideas and the entrepreneurs who can carry them to commercial application. We think that innovation independence gives us a creative edge to meet the solution-hungry demands of the future.

Danny Crichton’s critique, “Business as Usual in the New Silicon Valley,” is available here.