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Yes, it's the people--but for other reasons

A reader writes that technology is being held back because VCs are unwilling to look past their MBA spreadsheet logic into revolutionary ideas.


Yes, it's the people--but for other reasons

In response to the Sept. 25 column by Tony Fernandes, "It's the people, stupid":

Fernandes' article is a good overview of the future of retail product design, but he has left out two crucial elements. First, just as money is the mother's milk of politics, so it is with technology--money and lots of it. It takes investment capital to operate and produce. As the co-founder of a start-up that has invented a new cutting-edge AI technology with the same dream, I can tell you that the vision of investors (especially VCs) for that kind of product line is nil, zip, nada.

They don't understand it and don't want to because of ingrained educational training. They are unwilling to look past their MBA spreadsheet logic into such revolutionary ideas. It is a don't-tip-the-boat mentality. Therefore, it is almost impossible to get an audience without the slick dog-and-pony show presentation to which they are accustomed. They are looking for sexy glitz and glamour without the substance. That kind of emotional thinking from this group is what got us into the dot-com debacle in the first place. Webvan lost over $700 million; need I say more?

Second is the ego factor of the IT departments. The top IT techs in the departments are threatened by innovative technology. After all, they are paid the big bucks to come up with homegrown solutions on their own. It is notable when doing a tech presentation to an IT department that if the top techs don't understand the product (especially in AI), then their egos take over and they torpedo it immediately (especially after running a proof-of-product demo).

At our company we call it CTO job security. They choose against the substantial evidence to continue on with same old, rehashed technology that they will eventually have to rework, upgrade and service for a long time, thus accomplishing their end desire of job security. They are not excited by the technology--they are scared.

It is simple to present a premise that human-friendly product design is the next new, new thing, but I suggest that a more useful perspective would be on how to change the very human behavior of those who hold the purse strings.

Dorothy Estes
Charlottesville, Va.