what is competitive advantage? this was the topic of some of my most interesting and heated debates in business school — not so much with my fellow students, but with the crustiest of professors and speakers that were stuck in the past. my thinking is that traditional competitive advantages (patents, size, etc) are increasingly less important in today’s connected (both in terms of technology and people) world. moreover, what competitive advantages you do have are fleeting at best. competition moves too fast.
we can debate groupon’s ($grpn) definition of revenues, but the fact remains that this dog shit company scaled to massive amounts of revenue not due to competitive advantages (for which it has none) but rather competitive execution. i’m not sure if i can take credit for this term ‘competitive execution®’, but this is the way in which i look at the business world. fuck your patents. what good did they do for kodak? to hell with size. if anything, it’s a liability. just ask microsoft. how fast can you execute, how quickly can you adapt, and how seamlessly can you disrupt yourself. that is all that matters.
this is why apple is the most valuable company on the planet. each and every year it executes the shit out of one product that will cannibalize at least one of it’s prior products. this is why larry paige took the reigns at google, for they were too attached to the past and unable to disrupt itself. this is why startups are so dangerous, because they not only don’t give a damn about pissing people off, but also they do so at blazing speeds. perhaps mark zuckerberg’s motto says it best — “move fast and break things.”
welcome to this brave new world where cash cows are a liability, for they are the antibodies that resist and attempt to kill off innovation.