In which I stomp on some of our glorious “green shoots”
These are apparently America’s top under-25 entrepreneurs. Allow me to summarize: they are:
- A guy who rents airplanes to wealthy bored people. Not a bad idea, but … being the Avis of aviation nerds doesn’t sound like it has a lot of growth potential to me. Maybe there are more aviation nerds than I know.
- Some dudes who are attempting to sell something google gives away a better version of for free. Inspired by this, perhaps I’ll start selling canned Berkeley air.
- A marketing consultant and expert in twitter judo. She apparently wrote a thesis on why people use things like twitter and facebook. I wonder if she noticed rampant barking narcissism has anything to do with it?
- Three “green energy consultants” whose services are so in demand … their combined revenues are smaller than one middle class salary slinging HTML. If their success keeps up, maybe they’ll be able to afford to move out of their parents basements.
- Some chick who makes webpages; cool, someone who makes stuff. However, my pal Mischa makes them with clever database back ends. He also didn’t need a grant to get started, probably makes more money and I’m willing to bet his poker games are more fun, therefore he wins the coveted, “Scott’s top under age 25 most excellent Bay Area entrepreneur of the decade” award, which consists of me giving him a noogie the next time I see him.
- Someone who places coffee fetching slave^H^H^H um, interns, using the connections she made by doing an impressively insane sounding 15 internships herself. Get this: she charges applicants money to sell them into slavery, and she charges companies money to list their internships. Brilliant! Someone go get me a cup of coffee while I figure out how to steal her business model. Maybe I’ll be the first Quant pimp who charges candidates for a “pre-screen,” capitalizing on all the connections I made at failed bank interviews.
- A sort of hierarchical etsy knock off -far and away the most promising of the lot, and the most likely to contribute to national wealth. It even yanks on my small businessman heartstrings the way their business benefits people who design clothes and can’t break into the NYC/Paris axis of evil. May they profit tremendously and help get Americans out of our collective proletarian uniform of jeans and t-shirt.
- An ebay for people who want to cheat on their college exams. OK, really, it’s described as a sort of note-sharing service, where you charge money for your notes. This seems sort of like belonging to a college fraternity without the additional benefits of beer bongs and date rape. Let’s face it: if this idea flies, it’s because people are paying money to get an unfair edge. Probably a lot of growth potential here: more than half the population has some college, and they can’t all be above average.
- A service where some woman (who isn’t under 25 or very well dressed herself) plays “queer eye” for a dude over webcam and demeans him into buying her choice of clothes. The sadist in me loves the psychological component in her sales pitch, but ultimately, going to Brooks Brothers is going to be a similar experience, and I’m likely to get a better fit from the mean Serbian lady on Post Street. Better yet: support people who know how to cut a suit rather than the Americano fashion for purchasing a pup tent with shoulder pads.
- A crappy blog/twitter knockoff that doesn’t know how to sell online ads or make any money. You have to love those businesses with no revenue stream, hoping an adult will buy them and make them rich. I thought those went out in the late 90s, but I guess not. I will give them some free advice: sell ads.
Dear America: you can’t have an economy based on narcissism, good intentions, marketing, catering to rich bored people, really excellent webpages, and selling underpants on the internet. I’m afraid you’ll have to make something of value. If this is the best the “almost under 25″ generation is able to come up with, we are well and truly screwed. I may as well prepare my emigration papers to Singapore, stat. Perhaps I can get a job for their Sovereign Wealth Fund. My job would be simple: buy stocks in nations which make stuff using paper money you get from nations whose main exports are Ivy League educated swindlers trying to sell baloney as a service.
Believe it or not, I admire each and every one of these entrepreneurs, despite my sneers at the vacuousness of their ideas. They are all brave and vigorous people for trying to strike out on their own, particularly in this insane business climate, and some of them may very well some day create something of value. The problem is, other than the one marginal exception making markets for clothing designers, what they’re doing is fundamentally worthless, and these guys are presumably the best American youth has to offer -as nominated by Business Week. Nothing described above is an actual innovation which improves human power over nature, productivity, or any aspect of the human condition. By contrast, Philo Farnsworth built his first working model of the television at age 21. Bill Gates wrote a BASIC interpreter and founded Microsoft at age 20. Nikola Tesla invented the AC motor which powers civilization at age 25. I’m not saying every entrepreneur needs to be continually struck by thunderbolts of sheer genius the way Philo Farnsworth or Nikola Tesla was. I’m not saying that their money making activities need provide some obvious benefit to humanity. None the less, you’d figure at least one of the ten best in America might do something which adds to the aggregate national wealth. We’re not going to fund any sort of economic recovery by providing new ways to cheat on college exams or by telling people to unplug their DVD player when they’re not using it. The present situation of “not quite such a rate of utter collapse” isn’t an economic recovery: it’s a profusion of paper money at best.
Someone send me some optimistic or happy links so I don’t hurl myself from one of those new buildings the Glorious People’s University is bankrupting the state of California with.
Edit add: since none of you were able to cheer me up, I actually went back and clicked on the slide show. Many of the business ideas not featured in the main article are reasonable and will actually generate wealth. I don’t know why they picked such stinkers to feature in the main article.