Longtime Apple Computer evangelist Guy Kawasaki was forced to use a ThinkPad instead of his PowerBook when he appeared at a pep rally for 4,000 IBM loyalists at IBM's PartnerWorld 2001 convention yesterday.
"This is a historic moment," Kawasaki joked, referring to his having to use an IBM ThinkPad over an Apple PowerBook to run his PowerPoint presentation. "If Steve Jobs could only see me now."
Kawasaki spent years as an Apple spokesperson, sniping at Microsoft and the Windows world of computing while promoting Apple. Now CEO of consultancy Garage.com, he helps launch young companies and has adjusted his anti-Microsoft rhetoric.
Turning tide At IBM's conference, Kawasaki claimed the new economy bubble hasn't burst; though the tide is out. He called the "dot-com bubble" metaphor a sloppy one, considering when bubbles burst there is nothing left. The technology industry operates more like the tides, Kawasaki said: "Wait around long enough, and it'll come back in."
Dot-com casualties should have spent more time drafting a business plan on Excel, instead of drafting presentations on PowerPoint, Kawasaki said. Too much money was spent on things like marketing and designer office furniture, and too little time spent drafting prudent dot-com budgets.
For example, Pets.com spent US$60 million on marketing and advertising in its last 90 days of business, Kawasaki said. He added: "Dogs need leashes," he said. Give a dog too long a leash or a start-up too much money, and there's bound to be trouble. "
Bloated Start-ups don't need Super Bowl-sized marketing budgets, Kawasaki said. "If you need a flame-thrower instead of matches to jumpstart your company, then something is wrong," he added.
Kawasaki offered four characteristics to avoid in entrepreneurs. He warned against those who drive German cars, use cologne, wear a goatee or buy Prada clothing. Kawasaki's advice: "Applicants who have two or more of those characteristics should not be hired."
Kawasaki also urges engineers to "think digital and act analogue" when it comes to designing future gadgets and software. Too often companies develop cool microdrives, monitors, and technologies that don't resonate with consumers. "Digital is great only when it makes analog people happy," Kawasaki advises.
Kawasaki's parting advice dares companies not to "let the bozos grind you down" when it comes to risk taking. It's not bozos you already know, he said, but the well-dressed ones with lots of money.
His message is still synonymous with Apple's goal of changing the world. Pointing to famous missteps by shortsighted companies, he invoked a famous comment by Digital Equipment founder Ken Olsen, who wondered why anyone would ever want a PC in their home. Another famous foresight flop was Western Union's original turn-of-the-century notion that the telephone was too unreliable to replace the telegraph.