A few weeks ago, I went to a VC startup meeting. Here in Silicon Valley, venture capitalists (VCs), lawyers, and banks hold these “how to” sessions with entrepreneurs on a regular (if not weekly) basis. As an entrepreneur, these sessions are often as much an opportunity to network with the “Man” (VCs, lawyers, investors) as it is an opportunity to learn about the nuances of starting a company (e.g., term sheets, negotiating, valuation, liquidation, etc.).
So anyways, I have attended more of these sessions than I can count, and so it’s safe to say that there is not much that is new to me. So my biggest challenge at these sessions is to stay interested and awake.
But suddenly the VC running this session said something that made my ears perk up. “No matter how much you may hate it... Life is like high school”
No... no... say it isn’t so. I thought I had permanently closed that chapter of my life, along with the Madonna net gloves, Guess jeans, Ralph Macchio, and Oingo Boingo. But then I got thinking and the sad reality sat in... life is eerily similar to high school with all the insecurity, all the popularity contests, and all cliques.
So this is my take on the various cliques and my current counterparts:
1.) The Popular Kids (cheerleaders, prom kings). This means Google, Facebook, Twitter. Everyone says they know someone there, or used to work there. Everyone wants to be in the Popular Kids entourage.
2.) The Yearbook Staff. These are the lawyers, PR, management consultants, venture capitalists. These professionals are often not the “rock stars” but are rather the behind the scenes people that support activities in the value. Not quite the popular kids and not quite the nerds.
3.) The Nerds. These are the Stanford PhD, Xerox Parc folks, SRI researchers and technologists who tinker around, think of new ideas, but don’t always have the desire to make it successful. They are also often the ones that are resentful that the popular kids are getting all the credit and fame.
4.) The Drama Nerds (Freaks?). These are the alternative kids who are cool, but not exactly main stream. They march to their own drummers and include people like the Open Source folks, Craigslist folks, new media artists/musicians.
5.) The Band Members. As a former enterprise software executive, I am sorry to say that enterprise software is now the school’s band members.
Ugh... I better go into my closet and dust off my old Sixteen Candle VHS.