Waves have long been an important metaphor for me in thinking about opportunity.
If you catch the wave too early or too late, you end up flat or wiped out. It’s Alta Vista or Direct Hit before Google, or it is social platforms before the world was ready for real names or before mobile platforms were more open, cross-carrier, and didn’t require negotiation with the telcos.
That is why I liked this section from Greg Mcadoo’s (of Sequoia) piece in TechCrunch yesterday:
Whether it was the major transition from terminals to PC that fueled the likes of Dell and Microsoft, the massive adoption of the Internet that drove Cisco’s rise, or more recently the structural shift towards collaborative consumption that is propelling Airbnb, the disruptive companies didn’t create the waves they rode. Like surfers who aspire to greatness, the founders sought out their wave, often seeing it much sooner than almost anyone else.
They had the foresight to see the future first, the insight to build the right kind of surfboard, the courage to paddle very far out into the ocean amongst the sharks (and naysayers) long before the wave hit, and ultimately the steely determination to ride atop the wave, even as it rose to scary heights, and broke in ways they couldn’t foresee.