[Previous] [Next] - [Index] [Thread Index] - [Previous in Thread] [Next in Thread]

Subject: RE: UKNM: Wimps?
From: Sean Phelan
Date: Tue, 27 Oct 1998 14:12:03 GMT

At 3:15 pm +0000 26/10/98, Richard Houston wrote:
>However, my original post was intended to draw attention to the fact that
>practically all the web innovations (and their commercial manifestations)
>have thus far originated in the US. While people on this list are winging on
>about the "impact" of such-and-such a piece of javascript, our counterparts
>in the US are drawing up plans that result in soon-to-be ubiquitous
>properties such as Amazon, Expedia, Excite, Yahoo, SixDegrees, AOL,
>AltaVista, Planetall etc etc etc.
>Who in the UK has the balls to innovate? Failed carpetbaggers "One In A
>Million" are all that spring to mind form the recent past ... and Dixons I
>suppose. But neither of these are exportable properties in the Amazon /
>Yahoo / SixDegrees mould.

Hm. One can address these questions on so many levels. I wish I could
remember the exact points of the debate (slanging match?) that took place
a few years ago between management gurus Michael Porter ( HBS; "Competitive
Advantage of Nations") and Kenichi Ohmae (MD of McKinsey Japan, "Borderless
World"). I think Mike Porter argued that nations can build structural
advantages in certain industries over years and decades: Japanese automakers,
City of London banking, US computers & aircraft manufacture, French luxury
goods.... Ohmae disagreed, arguing that products, services and expertise
can now slip across borders and be replicated so effortlessly that national
differences will rapidly fade.

Both could find supporting evidence in the last few years of internet and
new-media innovation. As Richard points out, the US (and specifically,
Silicon Valley, Route 128 and maybe the flatiron district) appears to be
a consistent producer of innovation and globally ubiquitous properties.
On the other hand, it is really very difficult to find any structural
differences in the ISP markets of all the major economies, notwithstanding
a few quirks of the Telco's billing of local calls. This week's ISP
conference in Cannes (anybody going, by the way?) hosted by IIR will have
no end of discussion of the Dixons approach, and I am sure we will see it
happening all over the place by early 1999.

Specifically, Richard asked:

>My question was whether this trend can be explained entirely in terms of
>domestic market size and investment muscle. Or are we just glad wimpishly to
>follow the US innovators?

No, I don't think it can or should be explained entirely in terms of
domestic market size and/or capital availability. I think the US has a
structural advantage right now: lots of 2nd and 3rd-time entrepreneurs,
lots of venture capital, cheap bandwidth, high internet usage. And a
pool of professional expertise (internet lawyers, bankers, accountants)
that is both wide and deep.

And as a London-based entrepreneur I don't see this as a disadvantage
or a huge problem. I simply go where the money, and the expertise, is.
This often means red-eye flights, but remember: NY or Boston to London
is only an hour or so longer than to Silicon Valley, and most of the
time it is cheaper. And you get to fly nicer airlines.


Sean Phelan seanatmultimap [dot] com http://www.multimap.com
phone (within UK): 0171 433 0460 fax (UK): 0171 209 5194
phone (Int'l): +44 171 433 0460 fax: +44 171 209 5194

  RE: UKNM: Wimps?, Richard Houston

[Previous] [Next] - [Index] [Thread Index] - [Next in Thread] [Previous in Thread]