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on startups one analyst-year in

It’s been a little over a year since I joined Gartner and some things about startups, especially the  cloud platform and management variety, stick out one anlayst-year in.

1. Many startups don't know what to do with their product.

They're pursuing the wrong market, promoting the wrong feature, using the wrong metaphor, blowing the product out of all proportion with itself, etc.

Say you have a great feature. why build a not-great product around that great feature to compete in a market full of other non-great products built around more or less interesting features of their own? Just be honest: sell your bloody feature to someone who wants it or to a bigger player who needs it. But I probably don't know what I'm talking about and this approach doesn't fit the path-to-exit models in effect.

2. The herd mentality is very much real.

In my tiny little specialization of cloud platforms and management software, there are 76 that I know of. And this number seems to grow monthly (found number 76 yesterday). Seriously, why do entrepreneurs keep entering this (very crowded) space and who are the financiers who keep throwing money at them? How many potential acquirers are there and how big could any of these folks get independently? My view is dim.

Not only are they creating a phalanx of not-likely-to-exit entities all marching towards the same cliff, but they're locking up useful talent that could be doing something that might have some kind of impact.

3. Money has to be put to work.

Lots of it. And funding startups is one way to put it to work. But I've come to the conclusion that some (more than admitted) of what goes on is a group of people in an inbred ecosystem sustaining a particular lifestyle off of someone else's cash--everyone collecting a bigger or smaller slice of that more or less free pie as befits their nominal function.

I'm familiar with this pattern. I've seen it before in the other realms of finance more dominant where I live in NYC.

on cloud one analyst-year in

It's been a little over a year since I joined Gartner and some things about cloud stick out one anlayst-year in.

1. Cloud consumption is fragmented.

I can find no single pattern or market or threshold function that tips any given organization over into using or building cloud services. If I take the aggregate of all the customers I've discussed this with--enterprises, state agencies, federal agencies, cloud service providers--it's all over the map.

There is no single cloud market. There are dozens. The interesting thing to see is whether vendors arise to serve all of them.

2. There's a small, growing huge-$$$-potential market for "real", "true", "webscale", whatever-you-want-to-call-it internal-private-not-hosted cloud.

Amazon has left that market to anyone who wants to take it. And that market is being addressed, though relatively quietly (marketing attempts notwithstanding).

3. A class of customer is leading, almost dragging, vendors into the future.

Some aren't even waiting. They're running into the future without their vendors and finding new ones there or making it up as they go along.  They're spinning out companies, products, teams, open-source projects.  This looks new to me, but maybe I just haven't been around long enough.

on analysis one analyst-year in

It's been a little over a year since I joined Gartner.

Some things about analysis stick out one anlayst-year in.

1. Numbers don't lie, but beware averages, timescales, local min/max-es and the like.

You have to dig deep for the real story. Everyone knows this and nearly no one does it. I interact with too many people who say "the forecast says x" or "market share globally is y" without having looked at the breakdown of numbers below the abstract data point.  The surprising-est thing about this is how often that person is an investor.

2. Being an analyst is strange.

The weight carried by "Gartner" next to my name is more than I expected by an order of magnitude.

A bit of the job is just playing tech/vendor/market therapist.

It's hard work to not get sucked into one kind of a bubble or another that causes you to lose touch with what's going on in the real world. You have to constantly remind yourself of your biases, background, context, the biases and backgrounds and contexts of the people you're interacting with, and seek out things that check and balance you out.

3. Some significant portion of those engaging with analyst firms have no idea of how to do it or even what it is that they're getting.

They don't know what the range of services is that they have available to them. They have no strategy for engagement. Etc. And they don't ask. They don't seek to find out. I have to figure out that they don't know and then lay out the list of things that could be done differently. This may be as much a problem of customer management as anything, so I don't lay the blame all in one place.