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Amar Bhide
Works at The Fletcher School
Attended Harvard Business School
Lived in Cambridge, MA
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Amar Bhide

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Written up version of talk at Cato in December. (Its not as geeky as the abstract might make it sound). And thanks to Brink (who is going to publish some of the papers in a conference volume) for letting me put it up on SSRN.
(There are obvious implications for the hazards of macro-interventions which Im saving for a later oped)
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Why productivity estimates are bunk.  Stay tuned for more lucid written argument
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New issue of Capitalism and Society!
Contributors include Charles Goodhart (who has a law named after him), Claudio Borio (head of the Monetary and Economic Department at BIS) and Axel Weber (Chairman of UBS and professor and the U of Chicago)
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Qualifying Clay Christensen -- Bhide and Ghemawat in Quartz
Simplicity sells. This dictum, advanced by Clay Christensen in The Innovator’s Dilemma has also been central to his book’s blockbuster success. But to what degree are Christensen’s simple, enormously influential propositions reliable? It’s a mixed bag. The idea that successful new technologies rarely start out competing directly with the old was groundbreaking. McKinsey’s Richard Foster...
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New issue just published!

The article on China's environmental policy is of particular note: its novel, meticulous, and dare I say it, on a topic not less important than Piketty's.
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I believe this is hogwash -- fly by journalism at its worst.

As I wrote to a friend who emailed me a link this am:

"There has long been a tilt towards youth among entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, due to some combination of lower opportunity costs and awareness of the pitfalls. Hewlett and Packard who got started in the days before venture capital were a few years out of college for instance.

The rank-and-file also tend to be young -- again because of the opportunity cost issue and because of the sheer energy and stamina thats required. In the early days of venture capital there was a further factor -- skepticism that startups could make it against the big guys

These are quotes from Vinod Khosla in a case that I wrote on Sun Microsystems (the time frame is 1982-83)

On why he could not hire an experienced marketing manager

"I made organization charts for every major company I could think of, and I made over a hundred phone calls. Most of them just hung up on me. When you are 26 years old, look like a little kid, talk with a funny accent and have two people in your company and you're calling the Vice President at DEC or HP, you don't get very far.... Besides, you can't hire someone until you have the money to pay them. Nobody wants to leave established companies to join someplace where they can't even see six months of salary."

or on the recruitment of the software and engineering staff

"Most of the engineers came because they wanted to work with Bill Joy and Andy, who were leaders in the field. They also wanted to work on commercial products that could be leadership products. They were all excited about this kind of stuff because it was well publicized in the research community by Xerox PARC.

"These 'worker bees' weren't as conservative as the senior managers who wouldn't talk to us. In fact, the worker bees considered management in their existing companies a problem. It was the same managers that didn't want to come to work for us."

So whats changed between 1982-83 and now. Id say most of the changes have had a tendency to push age up rather than down.

1. Working at a startup is seen as less risky,

2. There are a lot of people in Silicon Valley, even at the middling ranks, who have "made it." With cash in the bank, the opportunity costs are lower.

3. The amount of VC has exploded, along with deal size. That means that the expected payoffs have to be many times (in absolute numbers) what was expected in the early 80s. Thus companies have to become gynormous very quickly. And to build something gynormous you need technical teams -- and mangers of such teams that really know what they are doing i.e have lots of hands on technical experience. This is not as critical btw after companies go public -- the likes of Microsoft, Google and Facebook will take in and train bright college graduates. But that was always the case with good blue chip companies.

VCs also now bring on "entrepreneurs in residence" who have made it big before and fund the ideas they eventually come up with. These guys too tend to reach out to their network of contacts to staff their ventures. And their networks tend to be of a certain age.

One possible countervailing force may be that Silicon Valley does more "consumer" deals (eg Facebook, Netflix). Historically 70-80 of businesses sold to other businesses (b-to-b in the jargon) rather than to consumers. Arguably this reduces the pressure to hire experienced sales and marketing staff (though interestingly enough even companies like google do maintain large sales staff for fact to face selling). I have not looked at the numbers so I dont know how large the shift to consumer has been. Even so consumer startups like Facebook, Netflix, Twitter also now have a huge and complicated technological backbone which cant stand many glitches or down time. So if anything the pressure to hire experienced technical staff is even greater than in Vinod Khosla's time.

Again an exception to this are startups that produce "apps" for the ipad, iphone and Android devices and do not require much technological sophistication. But these companies are almost never VC backed because they dont "scale" easily.

In short I dont think whoever wrote the story has much of a clue...
A behind-the-scenes report from the most ageist place in America: Silicon Valley.
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My civil libertarian take on the Charlie Hebdo demonstrations
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Amar Bhide

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Its the expectations, stupid...
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Debating Jeff Sachs: Top-down, global or local rules?
What do human rights have to do with the economy? As consumers in a rapidly growing global economy, we have an insatiable appetite for the next greatest electronic gadgets, like smartphones and TVs. But can we consume cheap imported products without exploiting someone in the supply chain? Jehane Noujaim explores these issues in her fascinating short film, SUPPLY CHAIN REACTION.
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Economics has a new dividing line: between those who support Thomas Piketty’s warnings of an imminent return to 19th century robber baron levels of inequality, and those who think the conclusions of his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century are
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yours truly kicks in around minute 21. then again at 1:21, 2:02 2:34 and 2:42

http://new.livestream.com/hgselive/events/2940108/videos/48949075
Askwith Forum: Educational Challenges of the 21st Century by Harvard Graduate School of Education on Livestream - Livestream.com
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Professor
Introduction
Author of "A Call for Judgment: Sensible Finance for a Dynamic Economy" ; "The Venturesome Economy"; The Origin and Evolution of New Busineses"; Of Politics and Economic Reality..

www.bhide.net
Education
  • Harvard Business School
    Business, 1985 - 1988
  • Harvard Business School
    Business, 1977 - 1979
  • Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
    Chemical Engineering, 1972 - 1977
  • Bombay Scottish
    elementary through high scool, 1960 - 1971
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Work
Occupation
Professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University
Employment
  • The Fletcher School
    Thomas Schmidheiny Professor, 6 - present
  • Kennedey School, Harvard University
    Visiting Scholar, 6 - 5
  • Columbia Business School
    Lawrence D. Glaubinger Professor, 6 - 5
  • Harvard Business School
    Asst., then Associate Professor, 6 - 5
  • E.F. Hutton
    Proprietary Trader
  • McKinsey & Company
    Associate, 1980 - 1985
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Previously
Cambridge, MA - New York, NY - Mumbai, India - Stockholm, Sweden - Somerville, MA
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