In the classic book “Founders at Work” the founders of many high tech startups repeatedly return to the subject of failure and how they recovered from it. One of the popular conferences in San Francisco is FailCon.  Failure is regular subject of panel discussions at high tech conferences. That may sound strange to an external observer. Isn’t Silicon Valley all about innovation and success stories? Why such fascination with failure?

In truth, the popular perception of the Valley as a magical conveyor belt that churns out billion dollar companies from startups is just a trivial case of survivor bias. The Valley creates thousands of failed startups that go away without notice during same time it creates  a couple of Netscapes, Googles, and Facebooks. The latter get all the press and attention while the former disappear in the dark.  This creates an illusion of an unbroken string of successes. If one looks at the actual time spent by entrepreneurs, as a distinctively different class of people than salaried employees of successful startups, they spend the most of their time and effort creating, enduring, and recovering from failure rather then creating success. Read more…