Techcrunch has rapidly established itself as the source of Silicon Valley startup news and views, and the opinionated site (which also occasionally functions as the soap box of founder Michael Arrington) has not been without its share of controversies and online dagger throwing. Now that storm has gathered north of the border, after Techcrunch published a story by Robin Wauters about Startup Weekends, and how companies created within those events generally don’t go any further than the weekend itself. To be fair, Techcrunch was only linking to and highlighting a study by a pair of German bloggers who concluded that many if not most startups crreated in a startup weekend environment are doomed to failure.
Montreal Tech Watch leapt in to point out that Blitzweekend, one of the startup pressure-cooker events held in Montreal, had in fact not only succeeded but that the point of the event is lost if all that matters is whether an instantly successful company results from the efforts of the participants. Some peoplealready have 9 to 5 jobs, are already entrepreneurs or are merely curious, and the Blitzweekend gives them a chance to experience the atmosphere and intensity of creating a product. That doesn’t necessarily translate into a polished company, nor does it actually need to, according to Montreal Tech Watch.
Predictably, the debate continued in the comments section of the Montreal Tech watch post, but perhaps this clash illustrates something about the culture of startup and tech communities in Silicon Valley compared to the rest of North America. The Valley has been a pressure cooker for digital success for almost half a century, and while other parts of the US and Canada don’t have that track record, they also have the luxury of not being as single minded in the pursuit of wealth. Infrastructure, coding and design costs have dropped to the point where starting a company is feasible not only as a way to make money, but also as the most efficient way to build a community or explore new ideas in computing. In that case, “failure” doesn’t really apply to an effort like a Startup Weekend. The real failure would be if the participants kept their experiences, tools and methodologies to themselves.