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August 16, 2003

Them That Knows Don't Talk, And Them That Talk...


Why is it that journalists really expect to learn remarkable truths by just walking around, flashing their credentials, and asking people to tell them things? And then believing what they’re told? A fairly humorous example of this is from a story in the August 18-25 Business Week.

Titled “The Quest for the Next Big Thing,” it documents a series of such, er, candid conversations between Robert D. Hof and various tech insiders over the course of the last year or so. Eventually the intrepid Mr. Hof decides to consult a remarkably successful venture capitalist, Don Valentine of Sequoia Capital, two of whose investments include Apple Computer and Cisco Systems. Mr. Valentine informs Mr. Hof that the current depressed state of the technology industry is the result of what he terms “extraterrestrials” (i.e., goofballs like Mr. Hof) who are searching for the “Next Big Thing.” Undaunted, Mr. Hof asks the venture capitalist what he thinks the next big thing will be. The result:

After a long pause, Valentine finally answers, very slowly, as if to a child: “I wouldn’t tell you that if you were my mother.”

Ah, our Diogenes has finally found his honest man. And just remember, you read it all in a national weekly newsmagazine—so it must be true.



posted by Friedrich at August 16, 2003


Bravo! Excellent post. I have a similiar impression to Valentine's on the talk of the next such-n-such author. Who is the next C.S. Lewis? Who is the next J.K. Rowling? How long will it be before they begin to ask where the next Friedrich Blowhard can be found?

Posted by: Phil on August 16, 2003 12:09 PM

It's funny, and your point is well-made, but reporters keep asking because some people with big reps are idiots who talk too much---see Mark Cuban, Ted Turner, Trent Lott---and they get a big story ot of it. Mr. Valentine's answer may just mean...he doesn't know. Given Wall Street's recent history, he wouldn't tell his mother, but he'd get told by an investment banker at Solomon who had a sweetheart of a deal for him, and at a better price than you or I could get and then, voila!, they have a "rep" and everyone thinks it is a mystery...

Posted by: annette on August 16, 2003 3:04 PM

Fried, you made my day.

When will people get over this crazy idea that you can find things out by asking people questions...

Posted by: j.c. on August 16, 2003 9:41 PM

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