What are the picks and shovels of the digital Gold Rush?

Everybody knows that in the Gold Rush you didn’t get rich by staking a claim – the real moneymaker was selling picks and shovels to miners.  So what are the picks and shovels of our second digital Gold Rush?  Computing power?  Storage?  Both cheap commodities now.  Data analysis?  Maybe, but enough people are already talking about that.  Today’s shovel is the lowly projector.

I was visiting a client the other day for a presentation.  The projector didn’t work.  Projectors never work.  They didn’t work in the first dot-com bubble either, and everyone hates them.  If you make a projector that works, you will make a fortune.

Here’s the numbers.  Just like everyone in L.A. is working on a screenplay, everyone  in San Jose is working on a startup pitch (if not, why on earth do they live in San Jose?).  1 million projectors at $50 profit per unit means $50 million in the first year (yes, the babies have their pitches, as do some of the more intelligent cats).  And we haven’t started on Seattle, Portland, or the other wannabe tech hubs.

So how come I’m not doing this?  Three reasons.  First, ideas are cheap – it’s execution that matters, and that sounds like work.  Second, I’d have to learn about projectors, and that sounds kind of dull.  And third and most important, I already have my ticket to the top planned.  It’s a startup that data mines the social graph to send hyperlocal coupons direct to your smartphone … and we make a game out of it!  Funding, you ask?  Not to worry.  I’ve got a killer Powerpoint deck and 15 minutes on the calendar of a top VC.  What could go wrong?

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2 Responses to “What are the picks and shovels of the digital Gold Rush?”

  1. Matthew Gerring Says:

    Most of the babies and cats with VC pitches are in SF. They’ve been selling picks and shovels out of San Jose (that is, routers and other hardware) since the first tech bubble.

    I found this out because I moved there for college, expecting to find people working on startups. No dice.

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