“Innovation in Open Networks” by Joi Ito

I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone – the folks who showed up and filled the room with your never-ending stream of thoughtful questions; the Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship of SMU for sponsoring the venue; my buddies over at e27 for filling our tummies with their food and drinks; and most of all, thank you Joi, for making the presentation and pitches possible.

Joi Ito at SMU

Innovation in Open Networks - Joi Ito @ SMU Lee Chong Kian Conference Rm 1.2

It’s been many years since Joi has spent time in Singapore, so it was a real treat for all of us to hear Joi’s insights into how our transition from closed to open networks has enabled faster and cheaper innovation, especially in the consumer web front.  The following are some of the points that jumped out at me:

  • “In the past, we were in a world of closed innovation – big R&D spend, large-sized vendors and heavily standards-driven…”
  • With the advent of Ethernet and TCP/IP, the Internet became a collection of “small pieces, loosely joined…”
  • “I remember downloading TCP/IP for Mac and Windows on both machines, and it just worked!  It was no longer a bunch of folks in suits trying to get consensus, but geeks trying to get things to work…”
  • Joi = self-professed geek
  • “There’s open source, and the associated low cost of failure.  Then there’s early-stage angels coming in at several hundred k like us, and the VCs with their millions at the next stage…”
  • “A generational gap exists between decision makers and users” – not necessarily always making the right decisions that will be accepted by users
  • “(Doing a start-up) is not about getting revenues quickly, but about knocking it far out into the park.”
  • “Don’t be an asshole (as a VC) – otherwise, you won’t get invited to the party.”
  • “The whole point of being a VC is to invest in that one out of a thousand that becomes your Googles and Skypes.  I could boast that I’ve invested in Flickr, etc, but those are really just feathers in your cap that you can use to point people to folks that you know.”
  • “Every start-up should focus on (1) distribution (2) agile development (3) smart money and (4) global & large markets.” – of course, this is assuming they’re trying to hit it far out into the park

That’s all I managed to recall and take down on my iPhone – I’d really appreciate it if any of you captured video feeds of his talk, so that I can collect them and mirror them here for the benefit of those who could not attend.  I’ll also put up the slides once Joi has posted them.

Joi with his Leica M8 - dammit I want one of those!

Joi with his Leica M8 - dammit I want one of those!

About James Chan

James Chan is an entrepreneur, investor, geek, photographer and husband/father based out of Singapore. Apart from frequent travels to Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia for work, James can also be found online via his trusty 15" Retina MacBook Pro or iPhone 6+.