Nothing to lose

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Google buying YouTube is a big news for the web 2.0 community. Its effect is felt more than that (I got two emails from friends regarding this :-). Interestingly, I recalled just a few weeks ago, Mark Cuban, the outspoken billionare investor (who made a fortune in the 90s dot com era), said “anyone who buys YouTube is a moron”. Now Google buys it. So according to his comments, and a little bit reasoning, Google is a xxx. Just kidding. When Cuban made this comment, he meant the potential lawsuit fallout because the copyrighted materials are all over the YouTube. And I believe there is some merits to his comments. But Google guys are not crazy either. As matter of fact, they have probablly the smartest people both in business and technology (and laws maybe). There are lots of analysis regarding why/how YouTube thrived amid all these competitions. Or how lucky they are ($1.65 billion payout). But I am not going there. I think they are genius, both with their technology and business model. But they would not accomplish without the “nothing to lose” attitude. Why would I say that?

About 6 months ago I found out YouTube from another web site. It’s a video titled Meat on a stick (lamb kebab, 羊肉串).


The video quality was not great, but I was impressed by its speed. I watched Internet videos using Windows Media player and Real Player before; and I know sometimes it could be slow. By that time I also watched the Google video and wondering why YouTube come up with another format and how can they compete with all these big guys. Note the Flasher player from Macromedia (now Adobe) and Quicktime (Apple) are also pretty good for videos too. So from technology or resource point of view, YouTube does not have advantage. But they have a big advantage: they have nothing to lose. By that I mean, two founders are fairly young and talented people, they know even if their efforts fail, they will get valuable experience. And they can start all over. So they are not going to worry about the “copyright issues”. Both the movie or record companies would not spend money to hire lawyers to sue them, because even if they win the lawsuits, YouTube has little money to pay. Now after Google buying YouTube it’s another story, but I believe the other companies would rather work with YouTube (so both can make money) than suing.

This reminds me my trip to Hangzhou last month. I visited two startup web 2.0 companies. Both are founded by people under 30 (got some experience after college), work hard and believe what they are doing. The most important of all, they know even if they fail, there is less to lose. While I am in a totally different situation with those guys, I think I could learn some of the mindset from them. No, I am not going to start someting like iTube, or toodou (the Chinese equivalent of YouTube) for that matter. I will do something I like and can do.

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