Failure Modes

TechCrunch

This was a rich month for the deadpool. Prim shut down. So did CarWoo. And much-hyped Outbox. And even moot’s Canvas/DrawQuest, which had 1.4 million app downloads and 400,000 monthly users. All part of the game, right? The circle of startup life, or something.

It’s a truism that most startups fail. But in fact most startups don’t even get to fail, in the way the word is most commonly used in Silicon Valley. The “failures” listed above were, by any reasonable standard, astonishing successes; like athletes who almost-but-not-quite qualified for the Olympics. Most startups never get anywhere near as far as that. Most startups disappear without a trace.

I saw Inside Llewyn Davis last week, and it has haunted me since, mostly, I think, because it’s a brilliantly told tale of abject, anonymous failure, and you don’t encounter that much nowadays, especially in the…

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