Steve Blank Podcast
Summary: Steve Blank, eight-time entrepreneur and now a business school professor at Stanford, Columbia and Berkeley, shares his hard-won wisdom as he pioneers entrepreneurship as a management science, combining Customer Development, Business Model Design and Agile Development. The conclusion? Startups are simply not small versions of large companies! Startups are actually temporary organizations designed to search for a scalable and repeatable business model.
How does a newly hired Chief Technology Officer (CTO) find and grow the islands of innovation inside a large company? How not to waste your first six months as a new CTO thinking you’re making progress when the status quo is working to keep you at bay?
Hundreds of billions in public and private capital is being invested in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning companies. The number of patents filed in 2021 is more than 30 times higher than in 2015 as companies and countries across the world have realized that AI and Machine Learning will be a major disruptor and potentially change the balance of military power.
Looking at a satellite image of Ukraine online I realized it was from Capella Space – one of our Hacking for Defense student teams who now has 7 satellites in orbit. National Security is Now Dependent on Commercial Technology They’re not the only startup in this fight. An entire wave of new startups and scaleups are providing satellite imagery and analysis, satellite communications, and unmanned aerial vehicles supporting the struggle.
Cram downs are back – and I’m keeping a list. At the turn of the century after the dotcom crash, startup valuations plummeted, burn rates were unsustainable, and startups were quickly running out of cash. Most existing investors (those still in business) hoarded their money and stopped doing follow-on rounds until the rubble had cleared.
It was an honor to host US Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks at Stanford’s Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation. (Think of the Deputy Secretary of Defense as the Chief Operating Officer of a company – but in this case the company has 3 million employees (~1.4 million active duty, 750,000 civilians, ~800,000 in the National Guard and Reserves.)
Tens of billions of public and private capital are being invested in Quantum technologies. Countries across the world have realized that quantum technologies can be a major disruptor of existing businesses and change the balance of military power. So much so, that they have collectively invested ~$24 billion in in quantum research and applications.
The last year has seen a ton written about the semiconductor industry: chip shortages, the CHIPS Act, our dependence on Taiwan and TSMC, China, etc. But despite all this talk about chips and semiconductors, few understand how the industry is structured. I’ve found the best way to understand something complicated is to diagram it out, step by step. So here’s a quick pictorial tutorial on how the industry works.
One of the most audacious and bold manifestos for the future of Naval innovation has just been posted by the Rear Admiral who heads up the Office of Naval Research. It may be the hedge we need to deter China in the South China Sea.
We just had our final session of our Technology, Innovation, and Great Power Competition class. Joe Felter, Raj Shah and I designed the class to give our students insights on how commercial technology (AI, machine learning, autonomy, cyber, quantum, semiconductors, access to space, biotech, hypersonics, and others) will shape how we employ all the elements of national power (our influence and footprint on the world stage). At the end of the quarter, each of the teams gave a final “Lessons Learned” presentation with a follow-up a 3,000 to 5,000-word team-written paper. By the end the class all the teams realized that the problem they had selected had morphed into something bigger, deeper and much more interesting.
If I ask you to think of an elephant do you see an elephant in your head when you close your eyes? I don’t. Regardless of how descriptive the imagery, story or text I can’t create any pictures in my head at all. 2% of people can’t do this either. This inability to visualize is called aphantasia.
75 years ago, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) helped kickstart innovation in Silicon Valley with a series of grants to Fred Terman, Dean of Stanford’s Engineering school. Terman used the money to set up the Stanford Electronics Research Lab. He staffed it with his lab managers who built the first electronic warfare and electronic intelligence systems in WWII. This lab pushed the envelope of basic and applied research in microwave devices and electronics and within a few short years made Stanford a leader in these fields. The lab became ground zero for the wave of Stanford’s entrepreneurship and innovation in the 1950’s and 60’s and helped form what would later be called Silicon Valley. 75 years later, ONR just laid down a bet again, one we believe will be equally transformative. They’re the first sponsors of the new Gordian Knot Center for National Security Innovation at Stanford that Joe Felter, Raj Shah, and I have started.
We just completed the eighth week of our new national security class at Stanford – Technology, Innovation and Great Power Competition. Joe Felter, Raj Shah and I designed the class to cover how technology will shape the character and employment of all instruments of national power. Today’s class: Cyber
We just completed the seventh week of our new national security class at Stanford – Technology, Innovation and Great Power Competition. Joe Felter, Raj Shah and I designed the class to cover how technology will shape the character and employment of all instruments of national power. Today’s class: The Second Space Age: Great Power Competition in Space.
We just completed the sixth week of our new national security class at Stanford – Technology, Innovation and Great Power Competition. Joe Felter, Raj Shah and I designed the class to cover how technology will shape the character and employment of all instruments of national power....Today’s class: Unmanned Platforms and Autonomy
As an entrepreneur at times you forget that being in charge doesn’t mean you have to know everything. When it feels like you’re trapped facing an unsolvable dilemma, and wrestling with a seemingly intractable problem, remember that “getting out of your head” is the personal equivalent of the Lean Startup mantra “get out of the building.” Learning this was a big step in making me a more effective entrepreneur.