Building a new start-up from the ground up is an exciting opportunity. Culture is molded based on the unsullied starting points of those involved. Resources are carefully acquired by orchestrating the right pieces into what is normally a bootstrapped budget. It is a completely unscientific art and it employs an organic element that ultimately defines the mission, vision, and success of the company.
Start-ups are what make our country the incubator of innovation for the entire world. In my opinion, the chaos and anarchy that encompass the beginnings of a true start-up are, in itself, what make the end product that much more impactful. You cannot force innovation; it is born organically. In that sense, starting a technology company is like having a newborn. The world is new with no preconceived notions already in place.
When the word “start-up” is thrown around and tied to a reallocation of resources, I become defensive. Call it smart marketing if you wish, but I call it irresponsible. Two weeks ago, a new “start-up” was formally introduced. I very much respect the new CEO of Pivotal (actually he is one of my tech industry idols) and many of those involved in the new project, but as was stated by Christina Farr at VentureBeat, this is no start-up. You can launch an edgy website and hold your press conference in a room filled with ping-pong tables to help drive home the marketing image of a “start-up,” but Pivotal is not a start-up.
When you take existing products from giants in the tech industry and spin them off into a newly named company that is staffed by employees from these same companies, you have simply reallocated resources to defend weaknesses in other product offerings from parent companies. Now, Pivotal may be a smart reallocation of these resources, but that is not the point of this. I have to believe that the greater public is smarter than falling for marketing fluff.
Pulling for the underdog is just a fact of human nature. We live for rags-to-riches stories, as well. But when you start from day one with a $1 billion investment from your former companies (and current majority shareholders) you are not new. Great things may come from this endeavor and they should. Enterprise PaaS and Big Data are the future of technology and will no doubt allow the best technologies in the space to reap incredible benefits going forward.
When EMC and VMware just put a skewed spin on things that already exist, package it up nicely and present it as a start-up, it detracts from the struggles that those in a true start-up have had to endure to create it. It is not about sympathy or pity; it is about getting real and calling a spade a spade. Start-ups are special: they invent something that was not present before their inception and can change the course for the masses.
Maybe the technologies now under the Pivotal umbrella were disjointed before and the story of them joining forces under a new (EMC) brand will work great. Regardless, I wish them much luck in this “new” direction…but please stop marketing to us like you’re a startup.