NDAs Re: [Beowulf] Nvidia, cuda, tesla and... where's my double floating point?

Jim Lux James.P.Lux at jpl.nasa.gov
Tue Jun 17 13:25:49 PDT 2008

At 12:59 PM 6/17/2008, Karen Shaeffer wrote:
>On Tue, Jun 17, 2008 at 11:41:34AM -0700, Jim Lux wrote:
> >
> > Well.. to be fair, there were (and still are) businesses out there
> > (particularly a few years ago) that didn't fully understand the
> > concept of needing net profit. (ah yes, the glory days of startups
> > "buying market share" in the dot-com bubble) And, some folks made a
> > fine living in the mean time. (But, then, those folks weren't the
> > owners, were they, or if they were, in a limited sense, they now have
> > some decorative wallpaper..)
> >
>Hi Jim,
>I think you have the common view about this. The reality is many of
>those same companies would be making money today. They were just
>ahead of their time -- which is very common here in Silicon Valley.

Hmmm.. I don't know about that.. having a solution with no problem 
that needs to be solved isn't a valid business model. You could 
equally well argue that a company with lots of smart employees, but 
no ideas, is also ahead of it's time.

Either you have all the elements, or you don't.

>Having good ideas or exceptional technology is not enough -- you
>need to time it right -- or you don't survive. I love the example
>of IP telephony. I first heard of friends in IP telephony startups
>in 1993-4 time frame. They and a long line of others went bankrupt,
>until Skype hit it big.

Back in 93, the telcos were still talking ISDN and ATM to the desktop 
as their model..whether it delivered IP packets (X.25, anyone?) or 
circuit switched digital voice was sort of immaterial.  Big firms 
already mixed voice/data on their data connections (e.g. Micom was 
building such data/voice switches for decades by then), but what made 
IP telephony take off, I think, was sufficient installed density of 
sufficiently high speed internet access with flat rate billing.

It's the flat rate billing that really did it, because it got around 
the "pay per minute" model for standard telephony, which was already 
on the way out for big customers, but very entrenched for the 
consumer.  The long distance resellers really cashed in, because they 
could buy flat rate bulk and resell by the minute for 5c/minute or less.

>The .com bust is about as hyped as you can get. They used to love
>to bash San Francisco as the symbol of the bust. Take a look at this
>month's cover of San Francisco magazine. Timing is everything in
>life. (smiles ;)
>And even worse, they lumped the failure of big iron companies
>and especially Sun Microsystems during that time with the .com
>bust, when, in reality, everyone was moving to commodity hardware
>and Linux during that time frame -- the business press just didn't
>want to report that at the time... Go figure.

To a certain extent, the big iron companies had troubles, though, 
because of the .com bubble in general. All this cash flooding into 
the market looking for investments, so really, really speculative 
ventures got funded (sort of like cash flooding into the 
collateralized debt obligation/mortgage backed securities market), 
and that funding drove deposits on equipment from the big iron companies, etc.

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