…still seems to have a remarkable number of adherents.
Business Insider has an interview with a 32-year-old Brit who is cofounder of Huddle, a startup aiming to compete with Microsoft’s SharePoint. While I didn’t read the comment thread, up toward the beginning there are at least 3 comments from people mocking the idea that a startup would be able to succeed against a product which (a)comes from a very large company and (b)is successful and growing.
Well, let’s see. Up through the early 1980s, IBM’s position in the computer industry looked unassailable…indeed, IBM’s dominance was so complete that the computer industry had often been referred to as “IBM and the Seven Dwarfs.” Who would have guessed that a couple of startups called Intel and Microsoft were about to start grabbing market share from IBM in a big way?
Up through at least the 1970s, Sears Roebuck & Co. was a colossus of the American retail industry. Who would have guessed that Sears–along with many other large retailers–would have found itself losing out to a bunch of guys from Arkansas?
The steel industry was long dominated by the giant integrated steel companies, especially Bethlehem Steel and U.S. Steel. Both of these companies went bankrupt–but for smaller and more nimble firms such as Nucor, focused on mini-mills and continuous casting, the story was very different.
I haven’t looked at Huddle in any depth, and don’t have a considered opinion about their future. But I do know that many SharePoint users are less than happy with the product, and I do know that small and focused companies often have considerable advantages over larger and more complex companies. Sometimes these advantages, intelligently applied, will suffice to dramatically overcome the also-very-real advantages of the larger firm.
The belief that the-big-guy-always-wins seems surprisingly resistant to historical experience. J K Galbraith, in his book The New Industrial State, asserted that large firms would simply become larger and more vertically-integrated and would control demand through advertising, making themselves fairly unassailable. This was in 1967–in view of the history of the last 45 years, people today have much less excuse for such beliefs that Galbraith did
Why is the big-guy-wins theory still so widely held?