Paul Graham: “How Not To Die”

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Sometimes I really hate reading Paul Graham, even though in the context of Silicon Valley startupland I don't doubt that this essay of his is absolutely right:

Another way of saying that is that half of you are going to die. Phrased that way, it doesn't sound good at all. In fact, it's kind of weird when you think about it, because our definition of success is that the founders get rich. If half the startups we fund succeed, then half of you are going to get rich and the other half are going to get nothing.

If you can just avoid dying, you get rich. That sounds like a joke, but it's actually a pretty good description of what happens in a typical startup. It certainly describes what happened in Viaweb. We avoided dying till we got rich.

Get rich or get nothing, and you have a fifty-fifty shot. You only have to have computer science chops, relocate to the Bay Area, and be willing to live on ramen while you do nothing but code and pitch VCs for a year or more.

The boomtown mentality is why it's almost impossible to find hireable Rails developers in Chicago: everyone worth working with is moving out west, to get rich or die trying.