I'm shocked at his reaction. I'd say appalled, but Michael, really, I can't say that I'm ever appalled by anything that a CMC alum does :-) (I went to Pomona, for the record).
Why all the venom Michael?
First of all, it seems to me that Michael's characterization of Glenn's post is off-base. He says that Glenn compares Silicon Valley unfavorably with Seattle. I don't see that in Glenn's post - what I see is a comparison of the pros and cons of the two areas.
Must everything be a conflict with a clear winner and a clear loser?
Perhaps this is the huge difference between the Silicon Valley and all other "also-ran" cities. The competitive spirit is such that in Silicon Valley you can't sniff in the area's general direction without raising the hackles of one of its cheerleaders.
Let's be clear - I don't mind the competitive spirit, I really enjoy and thrive upon it. Competition is great and it creates stronger, more resilient organizations and people. But aggressive competition has its costs as well. To steal a tactic that Michael uses, "Don't delude yourself" into thinking that choosing to be aggressively competitive is anything but a tradeoff. You're choosing to alienate and motivate those that might have been your best allies.
Which brings me to the 2nd of my reactions to Michael's post:
Being collaborative, cooperative and friendly is NOT a bad thing and it just might be the ONLY thing in the future
Glenn Kelman's post is about how he, Hadi Partovi and Rich Barton all think that Seattle is never going to be much like Silicon Valley. It's illustrative of his very point that he chooses to collaborate with both of those executives in crafting his post while Arrington goes off on his own about the perceived attack the Valley has suffered at their hands.
As someone who grew up in Redmond, WA and currently calls San Francisco home, my observation has been that the cutthroat nature of the Valley makes it much harder to feel like you can ask for help. Of course, this is just my perception, but I'd like to extend this point to something a bit more relevant:
It appears to me that "Web 2.0" (or whatever name you want to use for the networked technologies of today) is about collaboration, openness and most importantly, the understanding that if the other guy wins, it doesn't necessarily mean that YOU LOSE.
It is my belief that we're all seeing the most open, collaborative, cooperative companies make a name for themselves because they understand that competition isn't really about crushing the other guy, it's about competing to provide your customers with the best, most useful products and services.
Furthermore, the approach taken by many of the Seattle companies that I've been watching has been all about following a strategy of open collaboration. Amazon, Redfin, iLike, Zillow, Picnik and many others are leading the way to a more collaborative, hopeful, helpful business climate. This is where the bomb-throwers among you probably think, "Wait, you're from Redmond and Microsoft is all about crushing the other guy!"
Well, no, that's not right at all. If you look at the companies that many of us watch and are most interested in at the moment (Google, Yahoo!, eBay, Facebook, Amazon, MySpace) you'll recognize that many of them are looking to copy the playbook of Microsoft (and some are even beating them at it..). For decades now, the company has competed fiercely but reached out even more stridently to cooperate with those who could help them (don't make me post the infamous developers speech again). There is no company out there today that has been more responsible for supporting software development than Microsoft. There are literally hundreds of thousands of small businesses that make money by taking Microsoft software and extending it and servicing it. The very idea of a software platform begins with Microsoft and while you might argue that they haven't done enough you certainly would sound ignorant by suggesting that their collaboration and cooperation hasn't been hugely valuable to the company and the industry.
If companies in Seattle or New York or Mumbai or Sao Paulo are learning that it's better to work with one another and that means they "don't have what it takes to make it in Silicon Valley" I say Silicon Valley better start looking into the mirror a lot harder. But somehow, I don't think that Michael speaks for everyone in the Valley on this issue..
Finally, I have one last thing to take issue with, given that Michael was willing to nitpick every part of Glenn's post:
Ideas don't matter worth a damn. EXECUTION matters. PRODUCTS matter. Ideas? Everyone's got them.
The truth about Silicon Valley is that ideas matter more than anything. A Stanford (or even the occasional Berkeley) student with an idea can turn it into a Yahoo. Or a Google. Or countless other success stories. They are surrounded by people who want them to succeed, who are willing to give them money to support their ideas, and then help them grow it. There is no where else in the world quite like this place.
If anything, the sheer number of successful companies in Silicon Valley proves that it's the execution that matter. The support system that Michael references helps in EXECUTING. Ideas are everywhere. As someone who has spent his time in the halls of Yahoo!, WebEx, RealNetworks and other co's I assure you - there's NO shortage of ideas. If Michael wants to argue that the Valley is better at hearing ideas and supporting their execution, great. But don't tell me that ideas matter more than anything. ESPECIALLY not in Silicon Valley.