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7 things Silicon Valley needs to stop doing in 2017

Mike Elgan | Jan. 3, 2017
I love you, Silicon Valley. You know I do. But there are a few things you keep doing that exasperate everyone.

4. Stop launching copycat products

It seems like most of the new software startups these days are launching products that copy apps that have been around for years, with no differentiating feature set.

I love Product Hunt. It's a great way to discover the newest apps (and other things) and put your finger on the pulse of Silicon Valley software. For every unique, useful, powerful and interesting new app on Product Hunt, there are several boring, copycat, been-there-done-that apps.

Really? It's 2017 and you're living in a two-bedroom apartment with eight people in Silicon Valley to make a yellow sticky note app, a minimalist online writing site or a consultant time-tracking app? Those app ideas have been tried and have failed a thousand times. Think of something new.

5. Stop naming your product or company with an "LY" on the end

So you have an outline app. Do you have to call it Outlinely? Does a customer service app have to be called Customerly? And I don't even want to know what Zittly is. (I'm not kidding. These are the actual names of apps that have emerged in the past month or so.)

If you want more advice, I'll create an app called Advicely.

6. Stop acquiring companies and products just to kill them

Silicon Valley companies tend to acquire promising startups. Sometimes they unceremoniously kill them off -- not because they're failing but because they're succeeding.

In some cases, the enthusiasm for the product is so high a grassroots effort emerges to simulate or open source it. But these rarely succeed in the market.

Some of the greatest apps and sites ever created were acquired as they were rising in popularity, then terminated. Remember Posterous, Pownce, Dodgeball, reMail, Nextstop and Friendfeed? These were all innovative, powerful, well-designed apps or services that were terminated on purpose because they were so good.

Stop it, Silicon Valley. Stop using your billions to crush innovation for your own gain.

7. Stop taking away great features users love

In the past few years, major Silicon Valley companies have taken brilliant features that everybody was enjoying and unceremoniously killed them off.

Google Photos is a great example. When Google started stripping Google+ for parts, the photo features were removed and spun out as the separate Google Photos service.

Google also "improved" it by neutering the photo-editing features. Now, you can hardly do anything to pictures using the editing tools beyond cropping, adjusting "light," "color" and "pop" or choosing one of their ugly filters. Ironically, Google owns Snapseed, which is by far the best mobile photo-editing tool.

The website hosting and design company Squarespace used to let you send blog posts via email. This was a fantastic and convenient feature (pioneered by the aforementioned Posterous). Recently, the company announced the termination of this great feature.


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