Taking Inspiration From Failed Projects

It’s easy to dismiss ideas after the first attempt fails, but I don’t think we should do that. Instead we should learn from what worked and what didn’t.

I saw the news that the Mayweather fight was watched on Periscope by many people and thought “that was the same thing that used to happen on Justin.tv.” Justin.tv failed, or actually pivoted into a big success, but Justin.tv did not work as a business. I’m not saying Periscope or YouNow (our bet in that sector) will be successful but if they have learned from what worked at Justin.tv and what did not, they will have a better chance of success.

I’m reading Nathaniel Popper‘s excellent history of Bitcoin called Digital Gold (out May 19, available for pre-order) and he goes all the way back to the mid 90s to tell the story of the development of Bitcoin. In 1997, Adam Back invented Hashcash as an early attempt to create a digital currency. It failed as a digital currency in its own right, but later emerged as the proof of work algorithm in Bitcoin.

It’s easy to look at Bitcoin and say “that came out of nowhere”, but the truth is Bitcoin emerged from several decades of work in cryptography, peer to peer networks, and digital currencies. Satoshi had some breakthrough ideas in his white paper, but much of it was inspired by earlier work done by others.

That’s the way it always is. In tech, in literature, in the arts, and in most everything.