[The Raw Interviews: Ctrl+Alt+Compete is a documentary aimed at introducing startup culture and tech entrepreneurship to people who may have great ideas for awesome businesses but are outside the tech echo chamber, so it avoids too much inside-the-beltway analysis, techie jargon, and esoteric history. In our dozens of hours of interviews, though, we’ve stockpiled some really fascinating stories that might be too dry or insider-y for the average viewer but would be of great interest to tech enthusiasts. The Raw Interviews series is a place where we’ll be presenting some of the more academic clips for those of you interested in diving deeper into the world of Ctrl+Alt+Compete.]
To start off The Raw Interviews series I’ve selected a few variations on a theme: Accidental Pioneers – entrepreneurs (or intrepreneurs) who began projects with a particular final format in mind, but as they sensed shifts in the landscape they pivoted to another format and not only dodged a bullet but pioneered an emerging space.
It’s a funny thing about tech pioneers… the ecosystem changes so quickly that pioneers must make a leap of faith when they launch their businesses and simply believe a platform will be there for them when they’re ready to launch. If they wait for the platform to appear before they begin work, it will be too late. Henry Ford was well known for this: he’d assign engineers to projects that were not technologically feasible at the time of the assignment… he simply had faith that the necessary technology would emerge as it was needed.
Accidental Pioneers #1 – Rich Jaroslovsky
Rich Jaroslovksy is a tech journalist for Bloomberg, formerly at Wall Street Journal and a political journalist before that. I interviewed him at DEMO to get his journalistic take on the startups in competition, but the interview took a sharp turn when it came up that he was on the team of developers behind WSJ.com for Wall Street Journal in the early 90s. As most 90s techies know, WSJ.com was a really unique presence in the early web and made some controversial decisions about digital content that continue to echo today (I’ll get to some of that in later clips).
Here in this clip, Rich talks about the formation of WSJ.com and how they had one platform in mind but changed directions pretty late in the process (right before they might otherwise have driven right off a cliff).
The Accidental Pioneers series continues with Ryan McIntyre & Excite.com.