The Age Question (continued)

Brad suggested I write this post. I’ve been reluctant because I don’t want to pick at this scab of a meme. I really don’t want to be the guy who made it harder for anyone older than 30 to get funded in the web services market.

But I’ve been thinking about all the young entrepreneurs we are seeing walk through our offices. I’ve been thinking about Mark Zuckerberg, Rob Kalin, all the ycombinator entrepreneurs, and the 15 year olds who are hacking up facebook apps. You can’t ignore it. There is something fundamental and important going on.

The answer lies in Marc Andreessen’s words of wisdom about the web:

After an initial phase of the Web as a medium, in which lots of people attempted to make the Web look like a newspaper, or a magazine, or a TV channel,
we as an industry have recently been collectively developing a much
clearer idea of what the Web is really like as a medium in and of
itself.

This has led to broad realization of a set of design patterns for how Web services and Web companies often get built and used.

Who is developing this "clearer idea"? Who is developing the set of "design patterns"? It’s the younger generation. And its important to understand why.

It is incredibly hard to think of new paradigms when you’ve grown up reading the newspaper every morning. When you turn to TV for your entertainment. When you read magazines on the train home from work.

But we have a generation coming of age right now that has never relied on newspapers, TV, and magazines for their information and entertainment. They are the net natives. They grew up in AOL chatrooms, IMing with their friends for hours after dinner, and went to school with a Facebook login.

The Internet is their medium and they are showing us how it needs to be used.

Now don’t get me wrong. We’ve only funded one of these net natives out of close to fifteen portfolio companies. We’ll certainly fund more. There’s a lot more we look for in an investment than a 23 year old design whiz.

But the truth is that some of the most interesting things I’ve seen this month and this year are the creations of kids who barely shave. And it’s not an accident.