Sunday, October 24, 2010

FailCon: Learning From Failure

"FailCon Fails to Fail, Returns for 2010"
Epicenter, Wired (October 23, 2010)

"Failcon, a Silicon Valley conference focused on stories of failure, was so successful last year that's it's back again in 2010. Which means it either failed to fail or succeeded at failure, depending on how you look at it.

"In 2009, some of the Valley's prominent tech figures including former Paypaler and now Slide founder Max Levchin, David Hornik and Zynga founder Marc Pincus talked about the projects that didn't work - the ones few people remember, including the first four companies that failed for Levchin before PayPal sold to Ebay for $1.5 billion....

"...Failcon, the brainchild of event producer Cass Phillipps, along with associate producer Diane Loviglio, isn't about celebrating failure, but about talking about why ventures failed, how failure can be acceptable, and even how to fail gracefully e.g. how do you lay off employees, shut down a company and explain to investors that their money was for naught.

" 'Failure is interesting,' Phillipps said. 'My goal with FailCon isn't to make money, it's to not lose money and change people's opinions about failure.'..."

Learning about failed ventures is by far not the worst idea that the Lemming's run across recently. 'Success stories' seem to be more popular - at least with the 'get rich quick' set. Reviewing how business ideas that looked good at first - but didn't work - may not be calculated to quicken the pulse and have folks whipping out their credit cards. But it seems like a common-sense approach to not repeating the same mistakes.

Then there's that abysmal failure, Thomas Edison: who tried 1,500 filament materials without finding one that would be practical in an incandescent light.

And, no: Thomas Edison didn't invent the light bulb. All he did was develop one that people could use. And that's another topic. ("The History of the Incandescent Lightbulb," "The Inventions of Thomas Edison,"; "Inventing Edison's Lamp, Lighting a Revolution, National Museum of American History)

"If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward."
Thomas A. Edison, The Quotations Page

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