Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook on my parents 27th wedding anniversary, something that had never occurred to me until Tuesday of last week. I would suggest that there was a connection. That he got the idea after seeing that my family needed a great platform to share our pictures, that sort of thing. But he doesn’t know us and we all know he got the idea from the Winklevoss twins.
As the saying in venture capital goes, ideas are nothing and execution is everything. Over the years Facebook has, shall we say, “borrowed” features like checkin, questions and hashtags from other pioneering web companies. I think Zuckerberg exemplifies the maxim.
I intend for that to serve as a backhanded compliment rather than an insult. With my company, Owaxly, we have learned that great ideas seem to live in the ether. We started with the mission that friends and family should be able to make online contributions to a child’s college savings account. Unbeknownst to us, others around the country had started working on the same problem. This nice blurb on the history of the television captures some of that and the essence of why we think of Philo T. Farnsworth as the inventor rather than A. Campbell Swinton.
So I’ve accepted that original ideas are not always as original as they seem. My beef with Zuck would be one of degree then, insofar as it seems like he’s never had anything approaching an original idea. Nevertheless, one must give credit where it’s due. I’m still schlepping through life flying coach and he can build Scrooge McDuck’s money bin.
In Buddhist tradition letting go allows space for new things to enter. So in honor of Zuck and his accomplishments, I’m going to let go of some ideas here that I’ve been thinking about so that I can find new space for execution of others. They range from civic to business, small to grandiose. They are yours for the taking, I only ask that I get as much credit as A. Campbell Swinton. And if you should really hit the ball out of the park, a place in your pool house for me to live Ryan Atwood style would be appropriate.
o Restaurant 2.0. I’ve always envisioned either building a restaurant or the software for independent restaurants to use where neighborhood patrons could submit recipes through an online site. The restaurant would attribute the patron in their menu, building customer loyalty. Perhaps even other patrons can vote in some capacity. I always imagined it working best in city neighborhoods.
o The “Jet Blue” of Rental Car Companies. Jet Blue brought some frills back to flying with leather seats, individual televisions and more leg-room — all at low cost. Right now the rental car experience is sort of meh. There are mass-market players with mostly domestic fleets and then niche rental car companies at select airports with oober high end rentals. A wide gulf is in between. What I have envisioned is a mass-market player that only has a higher quality, mostly (all?) foreign fleet.
o Idea for a Novel: An All-female Dystopia. Almost imperctibly at first, the birth rate of male children begins to fall. Then it continues to fall each year. The novel explores how this affects society. The incidence of war drops at first, but rising social unrest ensues. Social norms and customs are completely disrupted. Extra credit: the reverse idea obviously works too, but annihilation and war would come sooner!
o The Modern Magi Christmas Gift Basket. What I have imagined here is using liquor as a play on gold, frankincense and myrrh. I’ve gotten as far thinking that one bottle would be Goldschlager, a wine bottle from Muirwood and perhaps a beer from a microbrewery in Frankfurt? Social impact of this idea: zero.
o Los Angeles Real Estate: Expo Line Bonanza. I think the biggest gains will be for people who buy off of the Exposition line. Since it connects three mega job centers (DTLA, USC and Santa Monica), it seems to me a no-brainer that the neighborhoods in walking distance of the line between USC and Culver City have a lot of additional development and gentrification in their future.
o Screenplay. Working title Lost New York. Here, I would essentially borrow the core plot from Brokeback Mountain but apply it to an interracial relationship in the 1970s. A wealthy white southern man goes New York for his MBA and meets a black woman. The relationship struggles for a lot of the reasons that all relationships do, but more so because neither feels they can inhabit the other persons’ world. A breakup occurs right before he returns to Atlanta and it haunts each of them.
o Clocks on Parade. This is a civic idea. We don’t have enough public art in Los Angeles and since it was imagined as a car city, we have virtually no public clocks useful for a public transit society. Also, we would be well advised to burnish our reputation as a global centre. What I would propose is that each the 101 foreign consulates in Los Angeles designate a modern artist from their country to design and build a permanently installed clock. These would be dispersed throughout the city like the famous Cows on Parade that occurred in Chicago.
o Renter’s World. I doubt it would work in today’s tight rental market, but this would be an online service that borrows its basic premise from Lending Tree. Renters would enter their criteria for a new apartment and landlords would compete for the tenants.
Since you’ve read my disclaimer above on the subject of whether ideas can ever truly be original you are on notice that I have no idea whether anyone is pursuing any of these right now.
But I’m curious: what do my readers think? Do any of these ideas have legs?
Los Angeles, California