Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lured by pennies

Most corporations today shell out tens of millions consulting specialist think-tanks for continuous innovation; Microsoft does it for practically no cost with Imagine Cup. I attended the seminar today, and witnessed (expectedly) many computer science majors falling for the lure.


The competitors form 2-4 person teams, and present solutions in software and/or hardware concerning some (supposedly) critical issues today. So according to the speakers, winners within NZ gets roughly $10K worth of downloads off MS. The global winner gets $25K USD. Of course the experience helps with their resumes/CVs, and yadda yadda yadda… That is pretty much it.

Pennies instead of dollars

Microsoft is one clever SoB, offering pennies while expecting millions in return. According to one of the speakers, 60,000 teams of 2+ staff engaged in the event last year. So a 120,000+ strong R&D dept. handing over their intellectual properties along with blood and sweat, all in hopes of $25k USD (unadjusted for inflation) and some downloads in return. That is the basic run down.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb was right about many things. What really struck me was how he pointed out that people naturally focus on the pennies instead of the dollars. Those who buy stocks for the dividend yield, good example; Imagine-Cup, perfect example.

Critical analysis

It doesn’t make any sense. If you have an awesome solution to an existing problem, a product that people want but are not getting, then you could easily attract 7-8 figure private funding and possibly retire within a couple of years, never having to work again. Why the hell would you give that to Microsoft for next-to-nothing?

Sadly I have met more close-minded persons at the Dept. of Math & Science than their business school counterparts. It appears that conventional education depresses critical thinking, regardless of the area of study. Oh well, if anyone opts to remain na├»ve, that is their choice. Hell, it’s less competition for the rest of us.

0 Reflections: