If you're going to try to do something really new for the world, lots of well-meaning people are going to criticize you as nuts or stupid.
The trouble for people in the technology business is that sometimes, these well-meaning critics are the people with all the power and money – venture capitalists and big-time CEOs.
This was the point driven home by Twitter thread started by Groupme head of business Steve Cheney late Sunday night.
Funny looking back at how many VCs thought Snapchat was a passing fad. The next big idea isn't always intuitive.— Steve Cheney (@stevecheney) August 19, 2013Hunter Walk, a former Google executive who also spent time at at virtual reality company Second Life, replied:@stevecheney one day ill tell you story of second life fundraising 2001 when some VCs told me most consumers wouldn't pay for broadband :)— Hunter Walk (@hunterwalk) August 19, 2013Second Life hasn't panned out, but broadband Internet sure has. Any VCs who bet it would not are probably not in the business anymore.Then Ariel Seidman, formerly of Yahoo tweeted:@hunterwalk @stevecheney former CEO of Yahoo chastised me for focusing our roadmap on smartphones in '08 b/c only rich people will use them— ariel seidman (@aseidman) August 19, 2013The Yahoo CEO in 2008 was Jerry Yang. Yang is a visionary in his own right, but boy did he blow this one. Five years later, Yahoo is still way behind in mobile.Here's that Bezos quote:
"Invention requires a long-term willingness to be misunderstood. You do something that you genuinely believe in, that you have conviction about, but for a long period of time well-meaning people may criticize that effort, and when you receive criticism from well-meaning people it pays to say -- first of all, search yourself -- are they right? And if they are you need to adapt what you're doing. If they're not right, if you really have conviction that they're not right then you need to have that long term willingness to be misunderstood."