BUSINESS | Our IT entrepreneurs should be busy innovating, not talking big, Ahmad Humeid observes
If you are someone who follows Jordan’s technology sector, you surely would have noticed the highlighting of the public-private partnership that many initiatives in the country are built upon. What this means is that our private sector and the government are supposed to work together (not against each other), to develop the technology sector, spread the use of technology and educate the masses about the importance of ‘being digital’.
All of this is very commendable. But one not-so-pleasant side effect of this partnership is that some of our technology entrepreneurs are starting to sound more like government officials and less like tech-business people.
Nowhere was this more evident that during the recent Jordan ICT Forum. Now there is nothing wrong about CEOs committing themselves to serving the common good, being socially responsible and giving back to the country. Yet when these CEOs push such themes too far, it shows.
Too many of us in this industry are starting to sound too prophetic. In this Forum, I was expecting to hear more interesting IT stories and not so much self-congratulatory rhetoric. Our IT entrepreneurs have too quickly adopted the seriousness of business suits and the generalized visioneering of government officials.
This is not the spirit of Silicon Valley technological innovation, the heroes of which are people like Bill Gates (Microsoft), Steve Jobs (Apple, Pixar), Marc Andreessen (Netscape), Tim Berners-Lee (inventor of the web), Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google). If we are serious about innovating our way to becoming a $ 1 Billion technology industry in Jordan in the coming three years, we should be busy with fine tuning our code, improving our customer service and pulling R&D all-nighters. Then, after that we might allow ourselves to claim national fame and glory.
During the ICT Forum we did hear some interesting, real life IT and entrepreneurship stories. And it was those stories, recounting the failures as well as successes, that where the most evocative and inspiring.
What we need to set our sights on is not the creation of yet another cut-and-paste software implementation company (although there’s nothing wrong with that if it creates some good jobs). What we need is a Jordanian Mirabilis (the Israeli company behind the ICQ chatting software that was founded by three 20-somethings, who then sold the company to AOL for almost $ 300 Million). When bought by AOL, Mirabilis did not even have a receptionist!
Every time we in the Jordanian IT industry start to take ourselves too seriously we should remember Yahoo! Yahoo’s first headquarter in Silicon Valley had a leaking roof. The word ‘Yahoo
How’s that for taking one’s self not too seriously?!.
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