Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fast Company Pieces - 3M Design Chief / Serial Entrepreneurship / Ads on the Web

Three different stories from the past few months of Fast Company that stood out as being on interesting companies and/or business topics.

From the recent November 2011 issue came Bill Nguyen: The Boy In The Bubble on the founder (or co-founder) of at least four different startups, including Lala (sold to Apple) and now the much talked about, but uncertain as to it's eventual success or failure, Color.

The piece is written by Danielle Sacks and a pretty fascinating read not so much because of the verbiage about Nguyen himself, but the article's description of the ethos of Silicon Valley and the startup culture. Interesting content on seed and venture capital investors backing founders who have had multiple successes (defined by exit with money for investors) and a business idea in an area considered hot at the time. While both of these things do certainly carry an import to them, what's often not taken into effort account is the particulars of the idea itself.

Also interesting from the piece was the description of how investors don't necessarily put a mark against the company founder's track record if not all ventures succeeded. Concept being the business failure looked at as simply a shot that didn't work out and not a big deal as long as other efforts did succeed.

As to Nguyen himself, Sacks details his bona fides in the areas of wealth creation and deal-making (in both the initial cash raising and then end-game business selling phases) and how this past success led to such large amounts of money invested in Color as a business idea. This outlay by investors takes on greater import given the underwhelming launch of Color and subsequent repositiong (with that so called pivot being another acceptable and almost expected thing in startups). Whether the company eventually succeeds or not, Nguyen is wealthy from past successes... and likely would resurface with another business idea, and investors willing to back him.


From the October 2011 issue of Fast Company was another solid feature... this one dealing not with a startup culture, but rather someone creating change in a large corporate environment. The Nine Passions Of 3M's Mauro Porcini is written by Chuck Salter and details the design chief at the Minnesota based conglomerate. Porcini is described as succeeding at 3M by trumpeting the process involved with outstanding design work as well as it's pure aesthetic value. Beyond this, he's developed credibility within the company by doing the all-important trick of being behind design work that's increased sales.


Additionally, Adam Lisagor Is Advertising's Quietest Pitchman was an interesting short piece from the September FC issue. Written by Bill Barol, it's about Lisagor's small production company, Sandwich Video and the straight-forward and well received online product videos (web ads) produced for the likes of Groupon, Airbnb, and Flipboard (with the Airbnb spot below and four other videos linked from the Fast Company piece).