Fear of success and business as theatre

Over the years I, and almost anyone I ever met who had even a passing interest in computers, the Internet or any technology variation, has imagined getting involved in some sort of start-up, dreaming up some cool product or service, and “growing” it into a big deal.

You know, “What if I was the next Google?” or, “This idea could become the next Microsoft.” Yeah, well …

Maybe success ain’t that great. Like most things, it has a life cycle. And as Jerry Seinfeld once said when, at the height of his show’s success and asked for his thoughts, “It’s a rollercoaster and we’re at the top of the ride. And I know what’s coming next.”

Anyway … Seth has a neat little post with a shot from the Vista consumer launch, “The wow starts now.” It’s of a fistful of Microsoft executives on stage and, as Seth says, “Not one smile in the bunch …”

Well, to be fair, I suppose the camera may have caught them at a bad moment and part of the spin with this Windows outing has been a more temperate approach to the launch. However … Why do companies do this? I don’t care how important your executives are in the scheme of your company, why trot them out, onto a stage, unless they have the kinds of personalities that beg for that sort of thing?

A launch like this may be business but, for the period of the launch event itself, it is theatre. You wouldn’t stage Hamlet with an accountant in the lead role. Why would you sit some guy with an MBA on a public stage, representing your company and your new product, unless he or she has the kind of personality, the charisma and presence, that demands attention?

And that’s my take on all of this. Except for this: do not confuse the merits of Vista, pro or con, with the launch, the spin, the media response and the kneejerk “everything Microsoft sucks” reactions. Maybe it will suck. Maybe it will the best thing to hit computers since the Web.

It’ll be some time before we all find out. And for the record, I use an Apple and I use a PC. There are things I like and dislike about both. (I’m a fence sitter, I guess.)