Money Ain’t A Thang

These startups-finding-their-way stories blow my fucking mind. Maybe they shouldn’t but they do. How people can raise tens of millions of dollars without shit to show for it is beyond me (maybe this is why I’ve never started or worked at a startup).

Take Javascript platform,’ 15 minutes of open source fame have come to an end. JavaScript rendering engine has pivoted away from its hardcore open sourced engineering platform which had raised over $31 million. It’s now refocused on commercializing the idea of powerful mobile web apps with a content management system for branded marketing apps.

Pivot. A brilliant word Silicon Valley loves to use. Wouldn’t it be nice if we non-entreprenuers could pivot on things in our lives? Like if those pesky rent payments aren’t working out, just pivot on them. The rent-paying world is ripe for disruption. Be innovative and begin paying your rent with a new currency you come up with yourself.

Back to’ ambitions were always lofty and a bit tough to explain. During the company’s debut on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2012 Startup Battlefield competition, rather than giving a traditional pitch, CEO Steve Newcomb spent his whole six minutes asking people to imagine what could be done if apps were 3D instead of 2D and demoing a floating periodic table.

The judges seemed baffled, as you can see below. That’s in part because just days earlier, the team made its first pivot away from what it called BenchRank, a ranking system for people, into an HTML5 development platform. Newcomb and then-intern Mark Lu found they couldn’t build what they wanted with HTML5’s limitations, so they set out to fix them. That led co-founder Dan Lynch and much of the team to depart, leaving Newcomb and Lu to handle Disrupt.

Pick a pivot and go with it, guys.

One more nugget:

I spoke to Newcomb, who confesses that for six months the company struggled to come up with a way to actually earn money. A source close to the company tells me Newcomb pushed the engineer-heavy company into “ideation mode” that made some employees feel like the startup lacked direction. They described engineers as being “fed up.”

Newcomb himself admits it was a “divergent brainstorming process,” saying “We tried everything…we tried everything so we could create a business model around open source. And at the end of the day, we just couldn’t do it.”

Just couldn’t come up with a way to earn money. Classic.