The time for healthcare tech startups is now

Don’t listen to the naysayers. The time to jump into healthcare IT is now, said Frank Moss, director of the new media medicine at MIT’s Media Lab. Creative technologists working in mobility, social networking, nano devices, should seek health IT opportunities. Now.

Highlights from TED: Tim Berners-Lee, Pattie Maes, Jacek Utko

We’re now more than halfway through the 2009 TED Conference, the thought-provoking gathering of innovative and multidisciplinary presenters. While some of the talks — on topics like reducing environmental impact in carpet tiles and addressing the crushing pressure creative people feel — fall outside of the GigaOM realm, a few have struck me as very relevant for this audience. Read More about Highlights from TED: Tim Berners-Lee, Pattie Maes, Jacek Utko

What you can learn from the sad fate of OLPC

LESSON: Your mission is the goal. Your model is the method. Do not confuse these two things.

The sad story of the One Laptop Per Child project (OLPC) is like a case study in what not to do. I know it’s a non-profit, but in the misguided strategy and execution here are plenty of lessons for you, not the least of which you’ll glean from this interview Nick Negroponte gave to Business Week in the Mar. 17 issue, 0306_mz_negroponte.jpg
in which he said the organization he founded 3 years ago has been operating “almost like a terrorist group” and that it now needs to be managed “more like Microsoft.”

I suspect one reason OLPC has had to operate as an outlaw (if Negroponte is to be believed), is that the mission of delivering a $100 laptop was totally inflexible to practical realities of commercial business models. The goal wasn’t “the cheapest laptop possible without running a deficit” but rather, a $100 laptop “at all costs.” Yet, to succeed, OLPC depended on partnerships with for-profit companies like Intel. When the market economics couldn’t be made fit into the $100-mold, ultimately, Intel walked. Now OLPC employees are, too.

Read the Business Week story for more perspective, but the main lesson here is this: Your mission is the goal. Your model is the method. Confuse these two things at you peril.