It is a crying shame that some people in the local start-up community think playing on a world stage means a brain drain for Australia. If they used their own brain, they might see it’s not a choice of Australia or Silicon Valley but rather Australia and Silicon Valley.
Humans have an incredible need for simplicity when thinking about complex issues and so they use mental shortcuts. One of the easiest mental shortcuts is to think something replaces another thing. Most people thought radio would replace newspapers when it was introduced, for instance. Then, of course, came the famous anthem, Video killed the radio star.
The inconvenient reality is that this thinking is wrong. Things might rebalance but they are rarely destroyed and, in many cases, the combination creates something larger. And so thinking through a more complex system where things become more fragmented is harder. Mental shortcuts and lazy thinking don’t work.
The Australian start-up community is relatively easy to think about. Until recently it was about bringing successful US trends to our own shores and creating start-ups around those ideas: First 15 years ago with real estate, employment and car classifieds and, more recently, with daily deal and flash sale businesses.
Now we have another wave of start-ups – Atlassian, Half Brick Studios, RetailMeNot and 99Designs to name a few – that dared to be the best in the world and built global internet companies. And if you’re building a global internet start-up that means that most of your customers will likely be non-Australian (shock, horror!).
This small change has caused some people to stumble in their thinking. If you’re creating a global internet business, usually you have offices in many places, and probably in the US. This is completely dumbfounding right? I mean a company can only have one office! Surely if they open a US office they’ll abandon Australia! This is horrible and the government needs to do something! Ugh, wake up and smell the coffee Mrs Bueller.
No intelligent person creating a global internet start-up thinks of a choice between Australia or Silicon Valley. They think how they can best make use of the situation of Australia and Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, widespread awareness of this simple fact might take a while to catch up to the reality.