Desi Back to Desh

Between airports, airplanes and transit lounges

Content or Technology – Who will win? A historical perspective

I don’t remember when.

August or September, I know it was New York from ten years ago, I was happy to be on campus, back within the familiar rooms I had recently left. But I don’t remember if it was hot or cold.

Fresh from my start up land, pool and lake view apartment in Santa Ana, California, I had come back to the Columbia Business School Broadway campus for a board meeting with my faculty advisor. A new well read and respected young professor had just joined the program at Columbia and I found myself sitting in his faculty cubicle asking for opinions and help.

And he said, “You can do content or you can do technology, but you can’t do both. Pick one before it is too late.” As Guy Kawasaki once said, I am Asian, you can’t ask me to make a choice; I will take both and do both or die trying. Which is what I ended up doing – die trying.

Ten years later, playing with my WordPress blogs (Oil Insights, Desi Back to Desh, Learning Finance and Startup Insights) late at night I realize how right the gentleman in question was, and how wrong was I. For ten years later, the technology that we wrote with a lot of pain and hard cash is dead and irrelevant. The design is still around and stays un-replicated but the Tomcat servers we bought, the code we wrote, the XML we generated and the site that was our pride for all of two years had withered away and died.

Old word files in forgotten folders with half formatted descriptions and handwritten html tags survived. And once you stripped the tags, the old content was ready to be brought to life in its new wordpress abode. A reincarnation of sorts, a rebirth, if you must. What took us a month in development, technology and analyst effort back then, takes 10 minutes now using a killer combination of word blogging and WordPress administration. Course, content, keywords, tags, comments, forum and community – Ten minutes and they are all yours. And it’s free, easy, scalable and standardized.

800,000 dollars and four bright kids in a room working their ass off for two years versus a single 40 year old working after hours, revisiting an old hobby in the little spare time he has. And the key as I found a decade later is still not technology, its content and from what I understand of the world around me, it’s likely to remain content.

Jump in and correct me if I am wrong.