O’Reilly says he sometimes wonders what would have happened if he had raised venture capital and given his company a chance to get really big. But he sounds more amused by this question than truly troubled by it. “Money is like gasoline during a road trip,” he says. “You don’t want to run out of gas on your trip, but you’re not doing a tour of gas stations. You have to pay attention to money, but it shouldn’t be about the money.”
Remember ChromeOS? Google’s once highly-touted browser-as-operating-system was going to be a Really Big Thing in the netbook space. But as a friend pointed out to me today, we haven’t heard bupkis about it in a while now.
There are two extremes in product development: the Apple Way, where you say nothing about what you’re working on, torture and kill anyone who spills the beans, slave away in utter secrecy, finally springing your product fully-formed upon the waiting market like Athena from the forehead of Zeus.
Then there’s the Microsoft Way: start pimping your product while it’s nothing but bullet points on a PowerPoint slide, talk endlessly about your “roadmap”, continuously solicit “buy-in” from a multitude of partners, catch flak in the trade press every time you rethink your strategy or tweak your feature set, and ultimately deliver your product behind schedule, over budget, missing major promised features, leaving the market saying “Is that all?”
Google has stayed mostly between the two extremes, tending toward the big-mouthed Microsoft Way. But with Apple dead-set on cutting their legs out from under ‘em in the mobile space, perhaps they’ve realized the wisdom of keeping their mouths shut.