Paul Graham on the Future of Software and Startups

Y Combinator founder, Paul Graham shares his thoughts and predictions on the future of software, startups, technology, the United States, Apple and more at last year’s Business of Software conference.

I have noted almost all of the key points from his speech below.

– Bio Tech – May be big, you can make money in this space.

– It’s hard to start a software company. You are creating value when you write software. Good place to be.

– ‘Efficient Markets’ emerging as information flows around. (AirBNB)

– Side note: YC is applying mass production techniques to venture funding.

– Measurement – Google Ads are popular because returns can be measured. Inventing a new way to measure more stuff is a good idea.

– Thoughts on the U.S.: As long as you have peace and people can make money and be entrepreneurs – then society will be prosperous. If bandits, government, invaders steal the money from people who make it then society could collapse.

– Let the good times roll in Silicon Valley. California is still rich. you can start a co. anywhere but it helps to be here.

– Higher resolution world, stuff gets done. Networks of little organizations that make things happen are more efficient. As products have more and more of a technical component, it becomes less of a good idea to become a big company.

– Economic inequality

– Moore’s Law working, but differently. Moving towards multi-core. There is a gap to be spanned in helping to build software on advanced systems.

– Want to deliver something? Think about what screen they are sitting in front of. (TV, iPad, Phone)

– Server based apps will continue to have a long run. Will become more complicated. Software and data will by default live on servers.

– Good customer service will be more important as it’s easier for customers to switch. They can also research and find out if you have good service. Customers now involved in designing your product. You learn alot from talking to customers.

– Apparently frivolous stuff often turns out very useful. (Facebook, Math, Twitter) – Bummed he missed out on his Twitter name. (Update: Found a good Twitter name @PaulG)

– Popular programming languages will emerge. Adopt the hottest languages. You should write server based apps in lots of languages. Don’t look down on “scripting languages” which are more abstract/powerful.

– Open source is big.

– Linux will never be a factor on desktop. (Paul cowers) The world has done design for you. Linux will be on servers for sure. Buy Apple stock. Hackers are a leading indicator of what people will be using in the future. (Audience was 40% – 50% Mac users)

– Everybody wants iPhones. Good for browsing the web. Problem for hackers because Apple are jerks. Android can’t compete with iPhone.
Apple cares about the iPhone the way Google cares about search.

– Design is something to bet on. China has made manufacturing a commodity. Design is software winning over hardware.

– Real-time is not bogus in the way “Web 2.0” was. Something definite going on, it’s the computing equivalent from the change in going from dial-up to cable internet. Protocols may go real-time.

– Google Wave is going to be important. (Whoops)

– Venture funding is not going to go away because VCs need you. They may not have the upper hand they’ve had in the past. Will give people money on better terms.

– Founders will more and more have the upper hand. Investors are learning it does not work to fire founders. Really matters who the founders are. Technical founders more and more important.

– Programmers can learn to do business. It’s a lot easier for hackers to learn business than business men to hack.

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