No One Wants to Be Dumb – and why being better is a fine strategy

Filling out accelerator applications, a common question is,

“What makes your company different?”

I think they want us to say something along the lines of

“We make robots that can manufacture anything, including themselves. We promise they will never turn on us and destroy humanity, or at least not until we have experienced several years of straight 10x returns.”

walking robot



We have developed a new app for social media that lets you know which people within 1,000 yards both smell good and are willing to have sex with you.

I have this suspicion because when I tell people at accelerators that we make adventure games that make you smarter, they cough, figuratively (and occasionally, literally), commenting,

Oh. Educational games. There are already plenty of those on the market.

This is true. You know what else is true? Nobody wants to be dumb. And yet, despite the “plenty of educational games on the market”, the U.S. continues to fare poorly in international comparisons, a chasm continues to exist between the achievement of low-income children and their more affluent peers, enormous numbers of adults fail tests, from pre-employment screening to community college placement exams.

Could it possibly be that those “plenty of educational games on the market” are not meeting that need? That’s a rhetorical question, and I say that fully mindful that I live in a country where millions of people don’t know the meaning of the word “rhetorical”, which is yet another indication of the failure of existing educational games to solve our problems.

Years ago, when I started using a web browser, it was Netscape Navigator. Anyone use that any more? It has been replaced by Firefox, Internet Explorer and Google Chrome.

When I started making web pages, I used Netscape Composer. The big players in that field now are Wordpress, Adobe, with Dreamweaver, blogspot and Movable Type may still be in there somewhere.

As a search engine, both Altavista and Yahoo were years ahead of Google – and yet …

My point is that doing something to better meet people’s needs is a perfectly fine strategy.

It’s also less likely to result in killer robots chasing you down a dark alley or strangers sniffing you trying to figure out if you are “Sadie783: Wearing Calvin Klein cologne, on the corner of 6th and Wilshire”.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *