When is too Old (redux)


I wasn’t going to comment on Fred Wilson’s post, but I have been thinking on it for a few days now and frankly Fred has it wrong. He discusses in scant detail that the younger generation are building the future directions of the Web based not on the old school. But the new fresh medium around them and it is this factor that are allowing them to succeed and become young entrepreneurs. Maybe he is just seeing things from the narrow perspective of his VC business environment. This relates in a way to my previous post on age and the web industry and age discrimination. I do note with interest that

So do the the young people on the block have all the ideas and all the skills? Are we (over 40’s) just dried up has-been’s stuck in a mold of doing things a certain way? I can certainly see how you could get like that (even in the web industry). But in reality I think it’s based on to narrow a view point. Let’s consider:

  • My peers and I are using the Internet to its fullest extend. We are on the edge, trying the latest idea, investigating the new craze of the day (often). Using the technology. We are immerse in it. Do we understand it…oh sometimes all too well we understand it.
  • Do I spend my days deep in newspapers, TV and radio (old media). Well no, the only old media I access is books, and then they are all technical books (very geeky I know)
  • When you are very young and still at school you have, large amounts of free time, no overheads, no social or financial responsibility, and no one to say just no. Perfect you think, but you have no experience, you waste lots of time. Remember for every bright “genius” there will be another 100 people that just don’t make it (bit like music eh).
  • On the flip side when you are 20-25 you can easily take a year at low wages, take a risk, but try that at 45, with a family, mortgage and community responsibilities. Then it becomes not so easy. However at 45 your list of contacts will be quite large, and it’s often these contacts that help you leverage success.
  • Don’t forget many of great inventors were well into middle age before they found success or their landmark invention.
  • One or Two Facebook applications does not a entrepreneur make. Usually just as quickly these applications are developed so there are surpassed by a similar yet more stable competitors application.

So maybe we should not be just writing off the older people in the web industry yet, hmm Fred. Sure some are set in their careers, just as there are young people too. But there are others young and old that are out there living the dream and having a go to build their dreams. Age is no barrier to ideas. Me thinks that Fred isn’t that close to the edge maybe to notice?

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1 comment

  1. Age is not the issue, it’s experience and background – and that affects people of all ages; I’ve seen both young and not-so-young people approaching web from a software development background and struggle to apply their training and methodologies, and I’ve seen people of all age groups approach web with no experience at all and struggle.

    Yes, statistically IMO most of those in the “traditional software development background” group are those from the not-so-young group; because traditional software development was the only branch in programming and design in their time … unlike now where we have web and games etc – but also because the modern generation has less training all round. Less people with tertiary education, people doing lateral movements in organisations and government into roles they have little experience in, which does bias the trad. s/w dev group make-up.

    But again, I agree, not age but background and experience.

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