The Celebration of Failure

It is often said that in Silicon Valley, they celebrate failure.  This is a bit of a misnomer, it’s not the failure that’s celebrated it’s the act of going for the win.  It seems that everyone in Silicon Valley has a story of how they left a secure job to go to work for a startup, or left a big company to company to start one of their own (PS I- I’ve done both), and it didn’t work out, or it did work out and now they can’t wait to do it again.

The impetus for this post was the closure today of Verified Identity Pass, the much-ballyhoo’d creators of the “Fly Clear,” program which for a fee let certain airline passengers move through security checks much more quickly.  The company was the creation of Steve Brill, who has had many successes and many failures over the years.  His biggest successes were very big, CourtTv, and American Lawyer Magazine.  His failures have also been big, along with Clear, there was Brill’s Content and

The lessons learned here:

– Not every one hits a homerun every time

– You’ve got to step up to the plate to even have a chance

– More people want to read/watch semi-sleazy stuff (like CourtTV – no comment on lawyers) than read a self-described “media watchdog” publication

The baseball analogies just happened, they weren’t planned. I think it’s because the SF Giants are much more fun to watch than I anticipated them to be this year.


2 thoughts on “The Celebration of Failure

  1. Keeping with the baseball analogies 🙂 , Babe Ruth said, “Don’t let the fear of striking out, keep from you from playing the game.” A failure means you are one step closer to getting it right (that is, if you learn from it and don’t repeat that mistake).

    You’re right, we’re not going to strike a homerun with each marketing idea or campaign we come up with, but each time, we come closer to knowing what we should do–and every once in a while, we do hit a home run.

    It reminds me of the Disney movie “Meet the Robinsons” where the motto was “Keep moving forward.” It suggests that we keep going, keep trying, keep failing, and keep moving forward.

    Thanks for the post.

  2. Sometimes the right idea can fail due to poor execution or the wrong business model or both, doesn’t mean there wasn’t a good market for the service. You win some and you’ll lose a lot before “hitting a grand slam” that’s how the game is played.

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