Metafilter - my leader. September 7, 2011 2:26 PM   Subscribe

Metafilter: entrepreneurial inspiration.
posted by Brent Parker to MetaFilter-Related at 2:26 PM (199 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

cool, but still: Excel > MetaFilter
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:38 PM on September 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


But we're better than gmail, hell yeah.
posted by cashman at 2:39 PM on September 7, 2011


It makes me uneasy that we're on the same list as Friendster.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:42 PM on September 7, 2011


Would have been cool if you would have included some text about why you made this post.
posted by royalsong at 2:45 PM on September 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Suck it, board games!

(Also, Hi, Brent!)
posted by Eideteker at 2:46 PM on September 7, 2011


Salon>Metafilter>iPhone>McSweeneys>iPad.
posted by nevercalm at 2:49 PM on September 7, 2011


Friend of Matt admires Matt. Hooray.
posted by crunchland at 3:13 PM on September 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


WHERE IS ASK JEEVES
posted by dhammond at 3:30 PM on September 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


'Entrepreneur'............please can we ban this tiresome word and replace it with the much more accurate 'Shyster' ???

It's worse when the 'entrepreneur' is 'underpinned' by something as well, usually design oriented, rigorous and utterly useless, like bar charts establishing a link between earthquakes and homelessnesss - the sort of thing john maeda throws together on his lunch break.

Anyway i'm with the doing something because you love it vibe, Matt's very good at that. It's not easy to replicate.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:37 PM on September 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


We finished behind Friendster.

Ouch.
posted by Trurl at 3:47 PM on September 7, 2011


'Entrepreneur'............please can we ban this tiresome word and replace it with the much more accurate 'Shyster' ???

Economic activist!
posted by Jehan at 4:04 PM on September 7, 2011


'Entrepreneur'............please can we ban this tiresome word and replace it with the much more accurate 'Shyster' ???

As someone who did a graduate degree studying entrepreneurship I'm kind perplexed as to what you're talking about. What are you talking about?

Also, this is obviously not a real person. I mean, naming yourself "Fake"? A dead giveaway.
posted by GuyZero at 4:04 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


As much as I'm partial to Metafilter, Friendster was more influential to the Internet as a whole than MeFi by an incredibly wide margin.
posted by dhammond at 4:15 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, this is obviously not a real person. I mean, naming yourself "Fake"? A dead giveaway.

That's exactly what slate magazine said of mefite 'fake' during the whole russian sex-ring thing.
posted by Think_Long at 4:16 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


“There is a great satisfaction in building good tools for other people to use.”

This is true, but it is also true that on the internet (perhaps as in the rest of life) just building something does not automatically mean that people will use it. In fact, it's fairly rare. And that can be kinda disappointing, if you don't have your mind set ready for it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:17 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shut up stav, my social network for hamster lovers will take off any year now!
posted by GuyZero at 4:25 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]



As someone who did a graduate degree studying entrepreneurship I'm kind perplexed as to what you're talking about.



How much money have you got ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:27 PM on September 7, 2011


Same amount as anyone with a graduate degree - none. Do you ask English graduates how their novel is going too?
posted by GuyZero at 4:28 PM on September 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


I was just going to ask you if I could borrow some money : )
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:32 PM on September 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


To me, the word "entrepreneur" is loathsome because it tends in modern parlance to imply that any economic activity whatsoever is by necessity beneficial to society. People may wish to examine what the word means. It's really just making money off of other people. Sounds less noble that way, but there you are.
posted by koeselitz at 4:33 PM on September 7, 2011


It's really just making money off of other people. Sounds less noble that way, but there you are.

Are you implying there is a way to make money that doesn't involve it coming from somebody else? I mean, aside from the issue that someone has to physically produce physical currency. I'd like to know how to make money without involving other people.
posted by GuyZero at 4:36 PM on September 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


To me, the word "entrepreneur" is loathsome because it tends in modern parlance to imply that any economic activity whatsoever is by necessity beneficial to society.

Also, that's fine if you feel that way but FWIW no one I know uses the word to imply that. I think they just think it sounds sexier than "businessperson" or "I run an unprofitable business".
posted by GuyZero at 4:37 PM on September 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


GuyZero: “Are you implying there is a way to make money that doesn't involve it coming from somebody else? I mean, aside from the issue that someone has to physically produce physical currency. I'd like to know how to make money without involving other people.”

There's no way to live without ultimately taking a shit, either, but you don't see me writing breathless blog posts about 'the defecation dynamic' and posting them on Hacker News, do you?
posted by koeselitz at 4:39 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


That most people value the product of their labour higher than their shit seems pretty normal to me. I'm not exactly sure where you reductio ad absurdum is going here.
posted by GuyZero at 4:42 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


oh man i've been waiting years for the big koeselitz/GuyZero throwdown
posted by Kwine at 4:50 PM on September 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


You're next, smart mouth.
posted by GuyZero at 4:51 PM on September 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


So, to clarify koeselitz, you're against innovation, wealth creation and the exchange of goods and services for money? Economics is not a zero sum game and to believe it is parades a tell tale depth of ignorance of the subject, rather than placing you on an elevated moral plane.
posted by joannemullen at 4:51 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aside from this entrepreneurial knicker-twisting y'all seem to be having so much fun with, that was a great little blog post. Good quotes, and a good idea behind it. I hope Ms. Fake and Anil Dash have a lot of fun and success while changing the zeitgeist for leadership. Thanks for the heads-up!
posted by carsonb at 4:55 PM on September 7, 2011


To me, the word "entrepreneur" is loathsome because it tends in modern parlance to imply that any economic activity whatsoever is by necessity beneficial to society.

To me, the word "entrepreneur" is loathsome because on those certain occasions when I use the term in conversation, I pronounce it a little more like a French person would: ahn-truh-preh-nuhr. Cause, like, I spent a lot of time in Europe and that's just how I roll, y'all. But whenever I do that, a little voice goes off in my head that says "the person you're talking to thinks you're some kind of show-offy wanker snob because you didn't say ahn-trah-prah-NOOOR like a good 'Murikan's s'posed to".
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:55 PM on September 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


up next: the pro-cess vs prah-cess deathmatch.
posted by GuyZero at 5:06 PM on September 7, 2011


It's prah-cess. Prah-cess.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:10 PM on September 7, 2011


It's the start of football season, and I was sitting outside looking at the river the other day and wondering why we pronounce the word "prevent" as "pruh-VENT" or "preh-VENT" in every single context other than the American football defensive scheme, wherein it's pronounced "PREE-vent". I dunno why that is. It bothers me a little.

Anyway. While we're talking about pronunciations.
posted by penduluum at 5:10 PM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Prah-cess.

what is this I don't even
posted by GuyZero at 5:15 PM on September 7, 2011


What about 'entrepreneuse'?
posted by box at 5:15 PM on September 7, 2011


If you give an entrepreneur enough rope they will hang themselves with an entrepreneuse.
posted by GuyZero at 5:15 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ms. Fake

lolwat
posted by fake at 5:28 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's no way to live without ultimately taking a shit, either, but you don't see me writing breathless blog posts about 'the defecation dynamic'

Entrepremanure
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:33 PM on September 7, 2011 [17 favorites]


guys, there's this great new book out by Tim Ferriss called "The Defecation Dynamic."
posted by Wuggie Norple at 5:34 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, I love that book!

Did you know that simply by taking an ice-water enema every four hours, you can reduce your time spent on the toilet to mere minutes a day?
posted by box at 5:41 PM on September 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


AKA The 4-Hour Dump
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:43 PM on September 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


"free your bowels and the rest will follow!"
posted by Wuggie Norple at 5:49 PM on September 7, 2011


I like Caterina. And I had never heard of NQPAOFU until this post. Also: hi Brent!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:58 PM on September 7, 2011


The scatological turn this thread is taking is only further proof of why Metafilter is a "leader"!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:00 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Getting Things Dumped"
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:00 PM on September 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


"7 Habits of Highly Defecative People"
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:01 PM on September 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


"Who Cut My Cheese?"
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:02 PM on September 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Did you hear about the constipated mathematician?

He worked it out with a pencil.

(Now that my kids are over 10, I thought I would have to wait until grandkids to use that again.)
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:06 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Effluence: The Psychology of Elimination"
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:07 PM on September 7, 2011


"What Color Is Your Parachute After You've Taken A Dump On It?"
posted by localhuman at 6:08 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Given that she attended Choate, Smith and Vassar, I hazard a guess that she would have done all right without Metafilter's inspiration. Just saying (and fomenting class warfare).
posted by Wordwoman at 6:09 PM on September 7, 2011


Wipe, Rinse, or Use Hands: The Bestselling Guide to Doing Business In Over 60 Countries
posted by carsonb at 6:10 PM on September 7, 2011


God, I wish I knew the names of some "economic success"-type books so I could join in this fun!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:10 PM on September 7, 2011


Friend of Matt admires Matt. Hooray.

Wait, I thought she didn't know his name.

As much as I'm partial to Metafilter, Friendster was more influential to the Internet as a whole than MeFi by an incredibly wide margin.

The operative word there is was, right?
posted by cjorgensen at 6:11 PM on September 7, 2011


flapjax, you can just make them up too! Saving Money One Asspenny At A Time
posted by carsonb at 6:12 PM on September 7, 2011


just think hard flapjax at midnite, I'm sure you're a Brazen Ca-rear-ist!
posted by Wuggie Norple at 6:13 PM on September 7, 2011


"How To Win Friends and Influence People While Talking on Your Fucking Cellphone in the John"
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:13 PM on September 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


The Number-Two Advantage: How We Succeed By Anticipating Poop
posted by carsonb at 6:13 PM on September 7, 2011


I was going to go with "...and Influence Poople".
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:15 PM on September 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Crappiness Project
posted by Wuggie Norple at 6:16 PM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


No Depends'ing it No More
posted by iamkimiam at 6:25 PM on September 7, 2011


The Tao of Poo
posted by iamkimiam at 6:25 PM on September 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


The Pooer of Now: A Guide to Scatological Enlightenment
posted by iamkimiam at 6:28 PM on September 7, 2011


Who Moved My Shit?

That was the last one, I promise. For today.
posted by iamkimiam at 6:32 PM on September 7, 2011


"Shit: A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results"
posted by box at 6:33 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm really, really sorry, y'all...but I can't not...just...

What Color is Your Poopchute?
posted by iamkimiam at 6:34 PM on September 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Who Cut My Cheese?"

Dear AskMe: exactly how waterproof are iPads? I have inadvertently spewed a cold beverage all over min and wonder if it will be ruined.
posted by TedW at 6:42 PM on September 7, 2011


Looks like your e key is stuck.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:46 PM on September 7, 2011


Even after seven years here, some days this place seems so fucking strange to me.
posted by grouse at 6:55 PM on September 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Looks like your e key is stuck.

Not necessarily. Perhaps he meant that he spewed a cold beverage all over Min Tanaka.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:55 PM on September 7, 2011


Pinch a Loaf, Not a Penny
posted by brain_drain at 7:01 PM on September 7, 2011


Someone get Min a towel, eh? Rand won't like her all drippy.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:01 PM on September 7, 2011


When you're sliding into home, and your pants are full of Metafilter?
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:09 PM on September 7, 2011


I won some friends. Can't wait to sell the extras on eBay.
posted by Eideteker at 7:27 PM on September 7, 2011


Wow, this thread sure went downhill quickly.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:30 PM on September 7, 2011


Rich Dad Pooped Dad
posted by P.o.B. at 7:38 PM on September 7, 2011


Atlas Pooped.

if you can't beat them, join them
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:40 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Zen and the Art of Regularity Maintenance
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:50 PM on September 7, 2011


What Color is your Parashit?
posted by rollbiz at 7:55 PM on September 7, 2011


Man and Pooperman
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:57 PM on September 7, 2011


Blink: The Power of Soup Butt without the but
posted by P.o.B. at 7:57 PM on September 7, 2011


The Poop Abides?

Hey, it saved this post.
posted by Eideteker at 8:07 PM on September 7, 2011


Scatalogical humor aside ("Six Thinking Shats?")...

I think the resentment towards entrepreneurs is directly linked to what the blog post was about... People making cool things and getting them into the world are typically other things before they're business-builders. The tinker who invents a better mousetrap is much more lovable than the guy who buys the patent and builds a business around it, leaping off of someone else's innovation to acquire a massively disproportionate share of the profits. It's this issue where money sticks to those who act as the middlemen and the gatekeepers, rather than the people who are really getting their hands dirty to do the hard work. And you might say, "Oh, but it's so essential for people to understand finance, because otherwise those wonderful inventions could never become ubiquitous," and I'll agree, but there's a proper proportion for these things, and then there's the financial sector taking over the economy. There's a fine line between angel and parasite, I suppose, if you want to put a point and a tl;dr on it. And people who identify themselves primarily as entrepreneurs are people who are not identifying themselves as builders, though they could be, but people interested in making businesses, and likely just as interested in playing into parasitism should the opportunity present itself. So that's possibly where koeselitz is coming from, perhaps. It's an understanding that there's something opportunistic and unhealthy about the way that ideas turn into capital, and the understanding that the fantasy of American business that involves radios being built in shacks is really just a fantasy, and an out of date on at that. Because more and more Americans are just living in shacks, sans radio, while the venture capital IP trade keeps whirling on, making a few fabulously rich off the sweat of the many, which has always happened, but now we're seeing the commodification of innovation and invention. Where even if you're smart and invent something incredible, you're going to wake up the next day a serf just like the day before. 'Coz you needed health insurance, damn it, to go with your mortgage, and those productive years only come once, but still you're producing under a non-disclose, non-compete, non-get-to-profit-form-the-things-you-invent contract with the corporate corpora that own your ideas. And it's a shit system, but someone's gotta do it. Someone's gotta take the shit, and the shit still rolls down hill, but the bottom's getting higher and it starts to look like all of us sitting together at the bottom. It's not them anymore, but us, the builders and the thinkers, and they came for the unions but we were too busy getting ours to notice. So for some people 'entrepreneur' means someone who worships at the altar of Mammon, that god of shit all covered in gold.
posted by kaibutsu at 8:10 PM on September 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


To me, the word "entrepreneur" is loathsome because it tends in modern parlance to imply that any economic activity whatsoever is by necessity beneficial to society. People may wish to examine what the word means. It's really just making money off of other people. Sounds less noble that way, but there you are.

Your family doctor is an entrepreneur (he has to run an office, right?). The guy who mows your lawn is an entrepreneur. The nice couple who own the independent bookstore in the nice, funky part of town are entrepreneurs. The immigrants who make delicious pizza are entrepreneurs. The guy who fixes your camera out-of-warranty is an entrepreneur. The group of friends who started up a craft brewery are entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs are usually creative, driven people who want to make a difference and contribute to the social fabric of our communities (sounds a lot like Matt and MetaFilter, right?). More often than not they're not making a hell of a lot of money, but it sure as hell beats being unemployed.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:47 PM on September 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


I have family members who worked their asses off to start small businesses that enable themselves and a few employees to earn modest but comfortable incomes. They are entrepreneurs by any rational definition of the term. To my knowledge, they do not worship gods of shit covered in gold.
posted by brain_drain at 8:49 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, this thread sure went downhill quickly.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:30 PM on September 7 [+] [!]


Merdre!
posted by Nomyte at 8:55 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


As someone who did a graduate degree studying entrepreneurship I'm kind perplexed as to what you're talking about. What are you talking about?


Tech entrepreneurs are surfing on a sea of money gotten by liquidating the manufacturing economy of the US, liquidating the pensions of millions of retirees and/or going from defined benefit to defined contribution, and the general collapse of growth for middle class wages.

Imagine each entrepreneur as Scrooge McDuck diving into a swimming pool of cash stolen from everyone in your neighborhood. The idea that you would work for 20 years to become a tech millionaire is inconceivable, it's money for nothing and get rich quick i.e. flickr because, in the end, it's always someone elses money.

Bunch of smug thieves.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:05 PM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


joannemullen: “So, to clarify koeselitz, you're against innovation, wealth creation and the exchange of goods and services for money? Economics is not a zero sum game and to believe it is parades a tell tale depth of ignorance of the subject, rather than placing you on an elevated moral plane.”

Entrepreneurship doesn't create wealth. Work does. "Entrepreneurship," literally and practically, simply means putting yourself between people who work and people who have money. It's the work that creates the wealth, though.
posted by koeselitz at 9:07 PM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


There are two different understandings of the word occurring here; one is 'anyone who runs a business,' and the other is very much in the original sense of the term:
'Jean-Baptiste Say, a French economist, is believed to have coined the word "entrepreneur" in the 19th century - he defined an entrepreneur as "one who undertakes an enterprise, especially a contractor, acting as intermediatory between capital and labour".' [via]
So your friend the dentist, running their own practice, really wouldn't be so much an entrepreneur under this understanding; they are laborers, directly creating wealth, who happen to own their means of production.

The first of these two understandings is quite advantageous to people who fall firmly under the second understanding. Because it's linguistically difficult to call our Type II Entrepreneur generally an asshole when the word coined specifically to describe them has magically also come to encompass a whole lot of non-assholes.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:34 PM on September 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Incidentally, Mike Leigh once made a very good movie about how difficult it is for a true socialist to live in the modern world as it is; it's called High Hopes, and I can't recommend it enough.
posted by koeselitz at 9:37 PM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


My economic dissertation let me show you it.
posted by odinsdream at 9:40 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


'Jean-Baptiste Say, a French economist, is believed to have coined the word "entrepreneur" in the 19th century - he defined an entrepreneur as "one who undertakes an enterprise, especially a contractor, acting as intermediatory between capital and labour".'

We aren't living in the 19th Century, so the contemporary definition of entrepreneur applies in this case.

This sounds like an all-purpose straw man for people bitter about whatever they feel entitled to be bitter about: "one who undertakes an enterprise, especially a contractor, acting as intermediatory between capital and labour"

It took more than intermediaries to build Flickr.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:04 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


i think we should put this thread in a time capsule for when our grandkids want to know what metafilter was like
posted by empath at 10:17 PM on September 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I print out various threads from here then fold them up and leave them on public transportation. It's like witnessing with Chick tracts!
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:22 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


"7 Habits of Highly Defecative People"

"7 Habits of Highly Decaffinated People"

?
posted by fake at 10:31 PM on September 7, 2011


"Entrepreneurship," literally and practically, simply means putting yourself between people who work and people who have money. It's the work that creates the wealth, though.


I might have said something like this before I realized that some internet geniuses are abysmally poor at business and, well, talking to people, and therefore they are perfectly happy to have good-looking business types do the real, actual work that it takes to get money in exchange for their labor.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:55 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Blog posts like this pop up every single week in startup land. People are always obsessing about value, changing the world, greatness, legacy and keeping it real.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:53 PM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


koeselitz: " "Entrepreneurship," literally and practically, simply means putting yourself between people who work and people who have money."

You're either doing this, or you're working for someone else who does. Is being the latter more worthy somehow?
posted by vanar sena at 2:23 AM on September 8, 2011


Sun Tzu's The Art of Waste
posted by Elmore at 2:24 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've never met an actual small business owner who has called themselves an entrepreneur. I don't call myself one, for sure.

The only people I've met who call themselves "entrepreneurs" are exactly what you'd expect: people who have capital, look to invest it in someone's idea with the idea of turning a "lifestyle business" into a Big Thing, capturing the vast, vast majority of the profit for themselves, dropping it once it has ballooned and before it deflates, and then moving on.

They could care less and have no interest in the actual idea/product being hyped.
posted by maxwelton at 3:39 AM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


maxwelton, those sound more like venture capitalists.
posted by vanar sena at 3:53 AM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow, this thread sure went downhill quickly.

It sure did. Just look at those skid marks!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:14 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, so much hate for entrepreneurism. I guess you must all live in some kind of magical socialist utopia where resources are free, customers show up because your new products give off pheromones, and no one will ever compete with you just because you got there first.

Relatively speaking, products are easy. Businesses are hard.
posted by mkultra at 5:37 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


guess you must all live in some kind of magical socialist utopia

Yes, we do. Grab a scoop!
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:16 AM on September 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm kind of gratified to know that there are other people out there who read "entrepreneurship" and think "get rich quick".

I have tons of respect for all of the people who work hard at all levels of business and society - it's only in my middle age that I've come to see that places like Metafilter AND the corner store create community while also providing jobs. Maybe entrepreneurs are also often about community, but the term makes me think "take the money and run". Nice to know I'm in good company. Or at least in metafilter company!
posted by ldthomps at 6:26 AM on September 8, 2011


You're either doing this, or you're working for someone else who does. Is being the latter more worthy somehow?

Some people think it's better to be the victim than the perpetrator of exploitation. I realize this might be difficult to understand if you have the "entrepreneurial mindset."
posted by enn at 6:42 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I might have said something like this before I realized that some internet geniuses are abysmally poor at business and, well, talking to people, and therefore they are perfectly happy to have good-looking business types do the real, actual work that it takes to get money in exchange for their labor.

This is self-serving fairy-tale bullshit.
posted by enn at 6:45 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some people think it's better to be the victim than the perpetrator of exploitation.

I'm not sure. See, I see value in what businesses do - take raw materials (labour, resources), put them together in ways that add value and sell them for a margin higher than what was paid for the inputs. I'm willing to pay extra money for a cake than for flour etc, for example. Or for someone taking Apache and building a website with it that I'm willing to pay to use. This is entrepreneurship to me.

Almost every internet service I use and enjoy was created by people who fit the definition of "entrepreneur", so I guess I might be a little sweet on the idea. I've seen the difference it's made to my country in the last twenty years since the government made it easier for people to start businesses too. You can almost hear the gears ticking over in people's brains as they come up with new ideas to make a living - some greedy, some clever and useful, but on balance I think it's been a positive development.

I think some of you might have to clarify whether you are defining entrepreneurship as something different from other business, because I certainly don't see it. Perhaps your definitions have been tainted by its overuse on the internet and by dotcoms, which seem to appear and disappear at a far faster rate than brick and mortar businesses because their requirement for up-front capital is lower.

I realize this might be difficult to understand if you have the "entrepreneurial mindset."

Perhaps. Help me understand.
posted by vanar sena at 7:01 AM on September 8, 2011


Unless, vanarji, entreprenuer = marwari bania? ;p
posted by infini at 7:10 AM on September 8, 2011


My best friend (and business partner) is a bania, and he cops no end of shit from me about it (and I get the surd jokes in turn). But in the end we both have to agree that our skillsets complement each other.
posted by vanar sena at 7:22 AM on September 8, 2011


See, I see value in what businesses do - take raw materials (labour, resources), put them together in ways that add value and sell them for a margin higher than what was paid for the inputs.

People do those things, and they are usually (but not always) different people than the people who own the businesses that employ them. I don't see how this is so hard to understand. Flickr is not a doctor's sole practionership. The people who design the site and write the code and sell the ads are not the people who own the site and take the profits.
posted by enn at 7:46 AM on September 8, 2011


Is a doctor propagating an evil exploitative system the moment he hires a secretary?

There's nothing here to "understand" btw. You're preaching to the converted if all you're trying to say is that businesses are often exploitative of their workers. That's middle school-level stuff. What's your alternative, socially responsible socio-economic system that doesn't include people starting businesses?
posted by vanar sena at 7:53 AM on September 8, 2011


>I might have said something like this before I realized that some internet geniuses are abysmally poor at business and, well, talking to people, and therefore they are perfectly happy to have good-looking business types do the real, actual work that it takes to get money in exchange for their labor.

This is self-serving fairy-tale bullshit.


Actually, it's quite true. I've worked closely for a non-profit industry association since 2004, and later in government, administering programs aimed at helping inventors commercialize technologies. I've had dozens and dozens of people walk through my door with an idea for a startup company for everything from remote sensing to enterprise search.

In my experience, a successful technology startup needs two of these three things: technological know-how, money, and business ability. If they don't already possess two of these three things, the venture is doomed.

Many startups get by with a combination of money and technological know-how, but after a while they need someone with business skills to take it to the next level. Business skills include everything from an aptitude for finance, to personal networks, to the ability to strategize and execute.

The people saying that entrepreneurs are EVIL or whatever have a very simplistic, negative. and unimaginative view of the world.

My own hometown has been transformed over the past 20 years by entrepreneurs. We no longer rely on tourism as the primary economic driver. Instead, there are plenty of high-paying jobs in the tech sector.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:58 AM on September 8, 2011


The people who design the site and write the code and sell the ads are not the people who own the site and take the profits.

They were before Yahoo bought them, for the most part. When Flickr was small it was exactly this. And while I agree that the "built to flip" model can sometimes be lame like that, I'd like to suggest that Flickr might not be the best example of what you're railing against.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:59 AM on September 8, 2011


(Incidentally, my middle school jab was uncalled for and I apologize without reservation.)
posted by vanar sena at 8:11 AM on September 8, 2011




Is a doctor propagating an evil exploitative system the moment he hires a secretary?


Ideally, no. The way we organize capital... yeah sort of.

It pits your interests against each other. As soon as you join the ranks of the employers, you're under pressure to extract as much labor as possible from your workers, for a minimized cost. That's grossly contrary to the interests of the worker.

As for siding with the victims rather than the perpetrators... it's more complicated than that. I'd rather not put myself onto the coercive end of that argument. There are those of us that believe that through organizing, you can push back, and change the way business fundamentally functions. I've found that having a union/government job defuses that relationship somewhat, and makes work a bit more tolerable. I'd rather help build new models for the way we organize labor than just pick a prison guard/prisoner uniform.

Maybe that's utopian, but at the end of the day it's my choice. I do know that I couldn't be paid enough to take the exploiter side of that coin, not because of high-minded politics, but because of the stress and conflict that it necessarily entails.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:14 AM on September 8, 2011


This is self-serving fairy-tale bullshit.

I am not an entrepreneur, although I am watching my partner finally finish an awesome tech product after 2 years of work, he has no idea what to do with it or how to turn it into money.

I have a friend who is an entrepreneur and if he took an interest in the project, I would be psyched. The alternative is...nothing. My partner is not suddenly going to become a business person overnight and has no interest or ability in that arena.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:32 AM on September 8, 2011


I do know that I couldn't be paid enough to take the exploiter side of that coin

I took it. Not because I like money (my wife would attest to that), but because after years of putting up with crappy bosses and poorly managed teams I figured I could do better.

Turns out its harder than it looks, and that's just the day to day management side (I "outsourced" the business schmoozing to my buddy). Being an employee doesn't make you dumb - as I'm sure plenty of you would stand in evidence - and you get all sorts. But frankly, given the breakdown of the unspoken contract of decency and loyalty between businesses and their employees, I don't think I could go back without some serious kicking and screaming. I can't change the world, but I can try and run a software team that gets paid decently, doesn't have to deal with irrelevant bullshit and moved goalposts, and gets told to go home if they're spending too much time in the office. I'm not there yet, but I'm trying.
posted by vanar sena at 8:35 AM on September 8, 2011


I am not an entrepreneur

"Self-serving" was unfair of me. I do think it's not really the case that the large majority of workers want other people taking control of their work product and that your partner is the exception.
posted by enn at 8:39 AM on September 8, 2011


I use the word "entrepreneur" as a sort of pejorative for people that try to install rogue elements or non-approved software/databases on my corporate network.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:41 AM on September 8, 2011


See, I see value in what businesses do - take raw materials (labour, resources), put them together in ways that add value and sell them for a margin higher than what was paid for the inputs.

People do those things, and they are usually (but not always) different people than the people who own the businesses that employ them. I don't see how this is so hard to understand.


Maybe because it doesn't fit logically into an argument that makes sense.

I hate to say this but Steve Jobs does exactly what you describe and he owns the business. You can't buy talent, creativity or vision on hire purchase in the first instance. You can purchase the demonstrable output of that vision/build/design/innovation - such as in Yahoo's purchase of Flickr.

And the pattern shows that for the most part, the original visionaries rarely stay on to produce for that faceless employer who owns the business. They know they can walk out and produce more of what people want to buy - be it services or goods.

There are people with skillsets - in english, we've come to call them entreprenuers - risktaking, willingness to invest time and effort, identifying an opportunity space and then taking the steps to fill it with a product or service at an attractive price point - without which the coders and makers would not become or evolve into a successful business. How do businesses start in the first place before they become Ford, GE, Microsoft or Flickr ?
posted by infini at 8:42 AM on September 8, 2011


They were before Yahoo bought them, for the most part. When Flickr was small it was exactly this.

Sure—most of these internet companies were like this once. Mark Zuckerberg wrote the first version of Facebook by himself. But they were all working to get to a place where other people do the work and they get the money (and Flickr and Facebook succeeded). That's what seems to distinguish self-styled entrepreneurs from people who have a website, as far as I can tell. People who do the actual work of production call themselves doctors or programmers or plumbers, even if they are self-employed business owners. You only need a word like "entrepreneur" that casts business ownership as its own occupational category if you don't actually perform any of those other types of production for which we have perfectly good words of long standing.
posted by enn at 8:46 AM on September 8, 2011


I mention Metafilter all the time on my blog, Twitter, even Google+. and yet I never get a post on the grey all about me.

I ask you, why not me? Just because I never create anything of worth? Faugh.

Clearly, Metatalk discriminates against unsuccessful people.

Sloths of the world, unite!
posted by misha at 8:47 AM on September 8, 2011


But they were all working to get to a place where other people do the work and they get the money (and Flickr and Facebook succeeded).

If someone offered you a job where your "salary" was equity-only, would you take it?
posted by vanar sena at 8:50 AM on September 8, 2011



Turns out its harder than it looks, and that's just the day to day management side...

I do not envy managers and small-ish business owners at all. The risk, workload, stress and such is enormous. It seems to me that if "ownership" of the business was more distributed among the work force, that some of the risk and pressure would be distributed as well. That's why I think that it's important to be clear about one thing here: my criticism is of systemic issues, not individual actors. I really do want things to work out for people, and I think that in some ways managers and business owners suffer as much as anyone in our system.

At the end of the day though, I do think that my "relationship to the means of production" (to briefly steal from marx) is significant to how I relate to people around me, especially coworkers.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:52 AM on September 8, 2011


If someone offered you a job where your "salary" was equity-only, would you take it?

Depending on the amount and type of equity and the viability of the project, sure. When it's a decent amount of real (that is, voting) equity, that's basically what people are doing when they try to start worker coops, which, at least around here, plenty of people seem to want to do.
posted by enn at 8:58 AM on September 8, 2011


People who refer to themselves as entrepreneurs are generally the type of the people who generally refer to people as consumers instead of citizens.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:00 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Depending on the amount and type of equity and the viability of the project, sure.

By my definition, it sounds like you have an entrepreneurial mindset. If you are willing to share in the risk of the company going belly up without producing a red cent after years of unpaid effort, you are perfectly qualified to share in the reward if it eventually makes a profit.
posted by vanar sena at 9:03 AM on September 8, 2011


If we search for "define:entrepreneur" in Google, we see that it's a noun that has the following definitions:
* A person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so

* Someone who organizes a business venture and assumes the risk for it

* Willing to take risks in order to make a profit

*An entrepreneur is a person who has possession of a new enterprise, venture or idea and assumes significant accountability for the inherent risks and the outcome. The term is originally a loanword from French and was first defined by the Irish economist Richard Cantillon.

* Simply starting a business and working for yourself
As someone who has worked their ass off in organizing and operating my own business, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so, hear this:

If you think an entrepreneur is an arrogant shiny devil, someone who is surfing on a sea of ill-gotten money, deservant of your dismissive contempt and outright accusations of ethical breaches and crime, then that's because you have some seriously stupid personal issues ...

... or maybe you need to have a little sit-down with a dictionary to understand what most people are actually talking about when they say "entrepreneur".
posted by krilli at 9:11 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


vanar, the quality of your comments is making it difficult for me to make any decent surd jokes, tone it down will ya?
posted by infini at 9:22 AM on September 8, 2011


If you are willing to share in the risk of the company going belly up without producing a red cent after years of unpaid effort, you are perfectly qualified to share in the reward if it eventually makes a profit.

Everyone who works for a company shares in the risk of its failure. In the real world, there isn't this dichotomy between unpaid entrepeneurs and generously-paid employees that you are drawing here. In the real world people get financing and pay themselves pretty well regardless of what happens to the company.

It takes an outlook seriously warped by economics textbooks to see the person who negotiated a loan from a bank or a private equity group or a venture capital fund—and is likely paying himself a healthy salary from the that loan—as taking on more risk than the people who are entrusting to him their livelihoods and careers in exchange for a fraction of the value they create for him and for the bank.
posted by enn at 9:24 AM on September 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


But isn't the opposite of entreprenuerial economic activity something icky like communism or socialism?
posted by infini at 9:30 AM on September 8, 2011


In the real world people get financing and pay themselves pretty well regardless of what happens to the company.

That really only happens in very small pockets of the world (such as the Valley) where such things are treated as normal. I assure you that most of the world is not like that. Hell, even getting your parents to stop mocking you for not working for a "good company" like a Microsoft or an IBM (or, heaven forbid, a TCS) is hard enough.
posted by vanar sena at 9:30 AM on September 8, 2011


I just learned for the first time about the radically different senses in which people use this word. For me "entrepreneur" always refers to, e.g., the guy who owns the local coffeeshop (who is actually sitting at the next table from me at his coffeeshop as I write this, meeting with suppliers who are trying to sell him wine.) But I was having dinner with a CS friend of mine and he found it really weird to use the word to refer to anyone who wasn't seeking venture capital. I don't have a clear sense of which usage is more common.

We have a new major in "entrepreneurship" here at UW. I wonder what the kids majoring in it think they're majoring in?
posted by escabeche at 9:30 AM on September 8, 2011


escabeche, what you are describing sounds like there are two concurrent usages, or a traditional usage, like what you describe re: coffeeshop/small business owner/manager and the shiny new Valley inspired version that I've seen in tech clusters in quite a few locations, meaning startup founders chasing VC funds.
posted by infini at 9:34 AM on September 8, 2011

Everyone who works for a company shares in the risk of its failure. In the real world, there isn't this dichotomy between unpaid entrepeneurs and generously-paid employees that you are drawing here. In the real world people get financing and pay themselves pretty well regardless of what happens to the company.
enn — I'm working in a mostly self-funded company. I have worked below minimum wage for 4 years, instead receiving part ownership in a company which I judge to have a reasonable chance of success. If the company does well, I will probably recoup the money which I would have earned as a salaryman computer scientist. Probably. If the company does REALLY WELL, I'll end up with more money than if I'd done a regular programming gig. If the company folds, I'll have nothing.

I am much, much more exposed to risk than any regular employee of any company I know.

So yes, there is indeed this dichotomy.
posted by krilli at 9:36 AM on September 8, 2011


Suddenly I think I understand where this total gap in understanding comes from, between the annoyed-at-entrepreneurs side and the entrepreneurs-and-friends-with-hurt-feelings side.

It's the stupid news.

Blaring on about giant venture capital deals. Most of that is nonsense, and is in no way representative of the majority of cases.

Of course it's the goddamn news. Where else would people get such a skewed worldview?
posted by krilli at 9:39 AM on September 8, 2011


vanar, the quality of your comments is making it difficult for me to make any decent surd jokes, tone it down will ya?

Congrats! You just made one. ;) Here are some more.
posted by vanar sena at 9:40 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


You are welcome to borrow my bania parents when you need moral support but I'll charge you 2% a month for sood ;p
posted by infini at 9:44 AM on September 8, 2011




maxwelton, those sound more like venture capitalists.

My point was anyone who describes themselves as an entrepreneur as opposed to, say, owning a local building supply company is almost certainly the sort of person I described. No one who is not a douche, generally, would reply "entrepreneur" to the question "what is it you do?"

To my mind, running a small business and thinking of yourself as an entrepreneur is simply stroking your own ego. I've run my own business for 20 years and have never, ever thought of myself as an entrepreneur. (Maybe that's why I'm not sitting in a hot tub full of cocaine and supermodels, though.)
posted by maxwelton at 10:09 AM on September 8, 2011


So, to clarify

I have found that on the internet this phrase means the exact opposite of what you would expect from plain English.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:13 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


To my mind, running a small business and thinking of yourself as an entrepreneur is simply stroking your own ego.

That's fair enough - if someone asks me what I do I just say "I work on software." On the other hand, the word "entrepreneur" has a very specific meaning that doesn't match up with the way folks are describing it in this thread. It really sounds like it's becoming an insult like "hipster" - a word that has no value because people can't seem to agree what the hell it even means.

(The idea that I took on only as much risk as the guys who I pay a great salary out of my own savings, on the other hand? That's not even worth arguing. I already put up with enough of that crap from their parents.)
posted by vanar sena at 10:22 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


... or maybe you need to have a little sit-down with a dictionary to understand what most people are actually talking about when they say "entrepreneur".

So basically the reason some people hate entrepreneurs is because they've made up a definition for the word based on a small sub-set of all possible entrepreneurs that corresponds with stuff they already hate.

I think this is basically a tautology.

Also, this whole "other people's money" thing - so weird. You know that poor people who make minimum wage also get their money from other people, right? There's literally no other way to get money. All money is someone else's money.
posted by GuyZero at 10:26 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Business skills include everything from an aptitude for finance, to personal networks, to the ability to strategize and execute.

People who do the actual work of production call themselves doctors or programmers or plumbers, even if they are self-employed business owners. You only need a word like "entrepreneur" that casts business ownership as its own occupational category if you don't actually perform any of those other types of production for which we have perfectly good words of long standing.


The problem here is not with the term "entrepreneur". The problem is with the bastardized definition of the term as well as co-opting it to replace "finance and business strategy" in business school programs.

First, the bastardized definition. Business skills include an aptitude for finance and the ability to strategize and execute. Business skills do not equal a personal network. One of the problems here is that there are far too many folks who refer to themselves as entrepreneurs who ONLY have a personal network and a conversational knowledge of business finance, loud talkers who elbow into deals based upon their family friends and call themselves entrepreneurs. Those types are not entrepreneurs, they are parasites who consider themselves the gatekeepers in a class based system of business. This is the class which has created so many rules and regulations around finance, accounting, patent laws, etc. that your average inventor or small business type feels overwhelmed by the jargon, legalese, and posturing that they are led to believe must be mastered to start a business. Business types like it that way, because it gives them a handy advantage.

The co-opted definition from business schools annoys me because everyone who learns financial strategy, investing, and business strategy is not an entrepreneur via the degree conferred to them by a university. That is absurd. They are a finance major or a business major with a finance or business degree. Knowing about how to assess risk doesn't make you an entrepreneur. Actually TAKING THE DAMN RISK makes you an entrepreneur. This is something you cannot get a degree in, my God, how stupid. I want to poke the idiotic business school marketers right in the eyes for this crap. Anyone who tells me that they "majored in entrepreneurship" at university is going to get (at best) a contemptuous eye roll from me and my colleagues in the boardroom, and (at worst) will be ignored in job interviews and meetings until they can prove themselves in another way.

Finally, an entrepreneur is a complementary identifier...it does not stand on its own. You can be a plumber AND an entrepreneur. A doctor AND an entrepreneur. A business analyst or investor AND an entrepreneur. You cannot ONLY be an entrepreneur. However, feel free to call yourself an entrepreneur before ever investing a cent in your own business enterprises, because it helpful to people like me who want to easily identify and avoid you.
posted by jeanmari at 10:40 AM on September 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


Myself, I don't object to entrepreneurs, and see where they have valuable skills that I lack that help the world work. What I have gotten sick of is the Cult of the Entrepreneur, which is shoved in one's face frequently in America. If the electric companies were constantly saying "and it couldn't have happened without electricity", I'd get sick of them. Valuable, yes; the most important thing, often not. The word 'entrepreneurship' has been overworked in much the same way that 'excellence' was overworked in the 80s.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:43 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well said, jeanmari. I created an analogy for this purpose: Startups are like cricket - a handful of players, millions of experts.
posted by vanar sena at 10:49 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


So I follow a guy who is and has been really just neck-deep in scam city right now -- he's one of the lucky few making a living off scamming others, isn't that pleasant? -- and entrepreneur has been the big, hot word for a while. They fucking love that word.
posted by griphus at 10:51 AM on September 8, 2011


...follow on Facebook. On Facebook.
posted by griphus at 10:51 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Entrée Manure.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:52 AM on September 8, 2011


Anyone who tells me that they "majored in entrepreneurship" at university is going to get (at best) a contemptuous eye roll from me and my colleagues in the boardroom, and (at worst) will be ignored in job interviews and meetings until they can prove themselves in another way.

Believe it or not, my degree actually says the word "Entrepreneurship" in big calligraphic letters right on my degree right above my name. http://www.conrad.uwaterloo.ca/mbet

Let me stress that I have never personally claimed to be an entrepreneur. In the same way that you can study literature without being an author, you can study entrepreneurship without being an entrepreneur.

To claim that entrepreneurship cannot be studied is absurd. To claim it can't be taught and/or learned is slightly contentious. But certainly studying marketing, patterns of technological innovation and how to commercialize technology isn't all that hard to understand, even for you what with your poor spasming eye muscles.
posted by GuyZero at 10:56 AM on September 8, 2011


And to be clear (in cane someone thinks I'm making some crazy claims here) my initial point was no more than that entrepreneurs are not all shysters. God knows there are some total douchebags out there billing themselves as entrepreneurs, but they're hardly the entirety of the group.

Also, The 48 Laws of Pooper.
posted by GuyZero at 11:01 AM on September 8, 2011


I think Matt's got a really good Muse going here with Metafilter.
posted by jayder at 11:06 AM on September 8, 2011


GuyZero, those studies that you claim are the domain of a degree in entrepreneurship have ALWAYS been part of MBA, finance, and business courses and degrees. I am glad that you recognize that re-branding that degree as "entrepreneurship" does not install you with special risk-taking business powers. However, there are many others who think that the term on the diploma does, indeed, enable them in this way. Let's just say that referring to a business degree as an entrepreneurship degree is much like an English Department offering degrees in Published Bestselling Authorship instead of Literature.

No, not all entrepreneurs are shysters. The ones who aren't don't usually refer to themselves as entrepreneurs, though. Others usually apply the term TO them.

I'm sure your studies were fascinating, and your professors engaging and learned. Not your fault that your degree was called what it was. I object to the term being used in this way, not the content.
posted by jeanmari at 11:08 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh! And my poor spasming eye muscles are winking furiously at you right now.
posted by jeanmari at 11:10 AM on September 8, 2011


Let's just say that referring to a business degree as an entrepreneurship degree is much like an English Department offering degrees in Published Bestselling Authorship instead of Literature.

heh. Haven't tried to apply for an MFA lately then I take it? Because there are universities totally offering degrees in Published Bestselling Authorship out there.

Also, most traditional B-schools seem to use entrepreneurship to refer to early-stage businesses, businesses based on technology commercialization or, most oddly IMO, as some sort of term for family-owned businesses which is its own strangely large subfield. I suspect it gets a lot of study because of wealthy donors who give money for B-school profs to study the ways in which the donors made their money.

And many, many b-schools don't offer anything in the world of technology commercialization. Generic strategy, finance to the point where it's more esoteric than advanced engineering calculus, traditional marketing, yes, but the world of technology entrepreneurship is still pretty small in the academic world.

As for only d-bags calling themselves entrepreneurs whereas others have the label applied to them, so what? No one is talking about being an entrepreneur in the first person here as far as I can tell.
posted by GuyZero at 11:25 AM on September 8, 2011


*hands jeanmari a bloody steak*

To claim that entrepreneurship cannot be studied is absurd. To claim it can't be taught and/or learned is slightly contentious. But certainly studying marketing, patterns of technological innovation and how to commercialize technology isn't all that hard to understand,


Risk taking cannot be taught in a classroom. Understanding risk in the gut, putting your job security and your healthcare insurance and your credit balance on a calculated gamble can't be taught, only experienced. I've seen enough seedcamps and startup garages attempted in other continents where the founders flounder seeking to fund their salaries first simply because the mindset of what it means to be in business versus the security of a regular paycheck is simply not there. And the spin outs from mega corps where former project managers turned CEO/Founder still go home at 5pm just like they used makes my mind boggle. You own that business,you are responsible for it, watchu going on and watching the clock for?

Imho, its the glamourization of the Valley culture, as vanar sena has already pointed and he probably knows better than I, since he's a tech startup founder. But what he also knows is just how difficult it is to run your own business where VC/money/startup culture is not the norm. And, where, you as business owner, are actually answerable to not only all your employees but also their extended family if your risks backfire.

But worse than entreprenuers as scammers in the location where they emerged from are all the half baked wannabes everywhere else on the planet.
posted by infini at 11:29 AM on September 8, 2011


most oddly IMO, as some sort of term for family-owned businesses which is its own strangely large subfield. I suspect it gets a lot of study because of wealthy donors who give money for B-school profs to study the ways in which the donors made their money.

To be accurate, no.

Family based industrial conglomerates aka business houses are not common in the North American continent, but Fiat and Tata are examples of such firms (though now they're professionally run). I suspect the lot of study emerged after the rise of the BRIC nations where these tend to occur,but you may recognize some others as well :

The Bulgari deal leaves most of Italy’s medium-large firms still owned and managed by families: the list runs from Alessi (homeware) to Zegna (fashion) via Barilla (pasta), Ferrero (chocolates), Lavazza (coffee), Ferragamo (leather goods) and many more. Brands like these have flourished despite Italy’s red tape, shaky public services, creaking infrastructure and dodgy politics. For Emma Marcegaglia, president of the national employers’ association, and managing director of her own family’s steel business, such firms succeed because of their owners’ flexibility, quick decisions and willingness to plan and invest for the long term, even in bad times. This also wins loyalty from employees.
posted by infini at 11:42 AM on September 8, 2011


Just glancing over the recent course topics offered by one university's "Entrepreneurship & Innovation major" (twitch, eye roll, twitch) I'm noticing the following about the required courses for the major. They are mostly existing courses from other years that were re-branded as "entrepreneurship" courses. That includes the private equity investing, business law, technology start-up, and managing enterprise risk topics. There is very little that is innovative about re-labeling a course, but it does bring in tuition dollars :)
posted by jeanmari at 12:04 PM on September 8, 2011


Oh yes, and my colleague and consulting partner has been consulting to and on the sub-topic of family-owned businesses for 20 years. It's a fascinating group, but not a brand new topic.
posted by jeanmari at 12:06 PM on September 8, 2011


"It sure did. Just look at those skid marks!"

No way! You wash your own underwear, pal.
posted by Eideteker at 12:41 PM on September 8, 2011


The 48 Laws of Pooper

The 48 Laws of Power is actually a good book which is clearly not taking itself as seriously as it pretends to. The "laws" are just a framing device around a bunch of fun historical anecdotes. (The author seems to have subsequently drunk his own kool-aid as a marketing move, but that's a different, if related, story.)
posted by Zed at 12:41 PM on September 8, 2011


"If we search for "define:entrepreneur" in Google, we see that it's a noun that has the following definitions:"

This is the 21st Century equivalent of "Webster's Dictionary defines..."
posted by Eideteker at 1:30 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


The linked article is obviously a Fake.
posted by scruss at 1:32 PM on September 8, 2011


This is the 21st Century equivalent of "Webster's Dictionary defines..."

I know! I entrepreneured it. There's a value-added channel here: http://defin.ly/ Please retweet! I just exited on a $6 billion dollar valuation.
posted by krilli at 1:35 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]




The only explanation I can come up with for why so many people here (and I assume it reflects the evolving apprehension of the word in wider society) have negative feelings about the word 'entrepreneur' is that it's French, and Americans just don't tend to be keen on things French.

It reminds me a bit, to be moderately serious, of one of George Carlin's bits about 'scumbag businessmen' and the intense, magnificent contempt he invested in the word 'businessmen'. I wholehearted agreed 20 years ago and still do now -- I think people may be apprehending the word 'entrepreneur' in the same way. Manipulative, greedy, monomaniacal drones, all that stuff.

I tend to align a lot more in my understanding and use of the word with Kokoryu's upthread:
Your family doctor is an entrepreneur (he has to run an office, right?). The guy who mows your lawn is an entrepreneur. The nice couple who own the independent bookstore in the nice, funky part of town are entrepreneurs. The immigrants who make delicious pizza are entrepreneurs. The guy who fixes your camera out-of-warranty is an entrepreneur. The group of friends who started up a craft brewery are entrepreneurs.
Anyone who starts any kind of business, where previously there was none, is to my mind an entrepreneur. It fits with the actual meaning of the word.

Jazzed-up jizzed-up tech-company-spinning types with their elevator pitches and their killer decks? Not so much.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:08 PM on September 8, 2011


Jizzed-up?
posted by P.o.B. at 2:30 PM on September 8, 2011


Indeed.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:32 PM on September 8, 2011


The only explanation I can come up with for why so many people here (and I assume it reflects the evolving apprehension of the word in wider society) have negative feelings about the word 'entrepreneur' is that it's French, and Americans just don't tend to be keen on things French.

Really? Even after kaibutsu cited the original definition ('Jean-Baptiste Say, a French economist, is believed to have coined the word "entrepreneur" in the 19th century - he defined an entrepreneur as "one who undertakes an enterprise, especially a contractor, acting as intermediatory between capital and labour".') the only explanation you can come up with is that Americans don't like French?

It's one thing to argue with the validity of that definition or to argue that it no longer applies, or that it's being misused, or anything like that. It's another thing to say that it's just 'cause us uncultured insular 'Murricans don't like that damn frenchy stuff.
posted by Lexica at 2:43 PM on September 8, 2011


Yes, sadly most Americans are too parochial to have actual Franco-phobia. I think the word is associated too much with fast-talking people, but hating entrepreneurs because of a few wierdos is like saying all Germans, Hitler, GODWIN!!
posted by GuyZero at 2:55 PM on September 8, 2011


I don't like no ah-trah-prah-NOOR cause they's all jes' a buncha Frenchy WIERDOS.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:03 PM on September 8, 2011


I think part of the problem with entrepreneur is that word was sold to us in the 90's as entrepreneurs being the new cultural icons who would redefine capitalism. Only to find out in 2000 that (surprise!) netpet.com was not going to make anyone any money and our new found culture heroes didn't really know their collective ass from their elbows. So regardless of the words meaning, it has more than a few negative associations.
posted by doctor_negative at 4:48 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


doctor_negative nails it.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:00 PM on September 8, 2011


Stav: My PPT detailing a method to autogenerate endless techno elevator music remixes of seminal jazz album Kind of Blue is on its way.*

*WARNING: Repeat viewings of this PPT is known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:16 PM on September 8, 2011


Really?

No, not really. That was what's known as a joke.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:35 PM on September 8, 2011


Note: I am not claiming that it was a good joke.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:37 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are these two people in my social circle.

Mr A classes himself as an entrepreneur. When asked to describe his personality he says "entrepreneur". When asked to describe his job he says entrepreneur. What he does is run a company that refurbishes a certain item and sells it again. He has >100 employees. He's been running the same company pretty much the same way for 25 years. It was unique when it started and he was clever to grasp the opportunity. A family member lent him the start-up money. Mr A socialises mostly with other self-identified entrepreneurs.

Mr B classes himself someone who gives things a go. After a decade as a professional musician he started, run and sold two small manufacturing businesses (<1>
Mr A does not consider Mr B an entrepreneur because he doesn't make millions or employ lots of people in his businesses. Mr B, if pushed to even bother about it, doesn't consider Mr A an entrepreneur because he hasn't taken a business risk in over 20 years.
posted by the fish at 7:03 PM on September 8, 2011


I don't know how to tell you this but your friends have been lying about their names.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:07 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


(<1> = oops. What I meant to include was ...
... Mr B made a good living and sold both for a profit. He now runs a third business in customer service, is learning new skills and planning for expansion. Mr B socializes mainly with musicians, artists and tradesmen.
posted by the fish at 7:08 PM on September 8, 2011


No way! True? I'm going to tell our friend Jane, Jane Doe.
posted by the fish at 7:10 PM on September 8, 2011


She wouldn't happen to be married to John, would she?

Because that guy is all jizzed-up.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:43 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that I have never heard
a poem lovely as a turd
posted by vanar sena at 12:01 AM on September 9, 2011


I think that I will never do
a verse as sweetly as a poo
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:46 AM on September 9, 2011


The other day, upon the stair
I smelt some poop that wasn't there
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:01 AM on September 9, 2011


When you wish upon a poo
There's no telling what you'll do
posted by Horselover Phattie at 9:03 AM on September 9, 2011


Because I could not stop for poop,
It kindly stopped up me.
The toilet held but just ourselves
And bow'l insolvency.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:06 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


So much depends on me not making a poop joke using William Carlos Williams in the rain.
posted by GuyZero at 10:19 AM on September 9, 2011


I actually honest to god have a whole blog of poop poetry.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:23 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


And people thought that whole competitive M:tG player-thing was a killer on dates.
posted by GuyZero at 10:30 AM on September 9, 2011


What turds and what deuces! Whole families
pooping at night! Aisles full of squatters! Wives in the
toilets, babies in the urinals!--and you, Garcia Lorca, what
were you doing down by the watermelons?
posted by griphus at 10:32 AM on September 9, 2011


Come, my wan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your wipers ready;
Have you your plungers? have you your hand-cranked snakes?
Dry manures! O dry manures!

For we cannot tarry here,
We must push my darlings, we must bear down damn the danger,
We, the bloated gaseous bodies, how we clench and bend,
Dry manures! O dry manures!

O you guts, bursting guts,
So obese, full of bacon, full of saturated fats and corn syrup,
Pain I see you in, bursting guts, see you cramping with the burden,
Dry manures! O dry manures!

Till with sound of trumpet,
Fart, fart off the clog-break call hark! how loud and clear I hear the wind;
Shit! to the head to the privy! shit! spring to your places,
Dry manures! O dry manures!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:26 PM on September 9, 2011


I was honestly mortified by the verbal diarrhea I left here a few nights ago. That next morning, I woke up, called upon Recent Activity expecting, hoping my mess to be gone, thanks to the mercy of the nightcrew. I was a bit disconcerted to find that not only was it still there, but the comments carried on like nobody was noticing the big dump I'd taken on the floor. Which was a bit relieving, in a sense I suppose.

But then today...now...I return again, just to see what's become of this whole mishap. And what do I find? I see that OMG THERE'S THREADSHIT EVERYWHERE!!!
posted by iamkimiam at 2:05 PM on September 9, 2011


That's not threadshit. That's culture. Active culture.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:11 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


This culture metaphor...it is so strained.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:16 PM on September 9, 2011


Yeast and desist.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:25 PM on September 9, 2011


Knock it off you fungi. Stop being so bacillus.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:39 PM on September 9, 2011


Yeah. Shoo! Scat!
posted by infini at 9:45 PM on September 9, 2011


iamkimiam: "This culture metaphor...it is so strained."

Be nice. It's the best he could do in a pinch.
posted by vanar sena at 8:34 AM on September 10, 2011


Jean Poo Sartre, Peeing and Nothingness
posted by Eideteker at 7:01 PM on September 11, 2011


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