Armchair quarterbacks gloat in VoIP startup’s trouble

I guess we should not be surprised that those so self-absorbed as to live by their blog would be taking malicious delight in the troubles of others for their own self-gratification.

Perhaps Ooma brought it on themselves with their attitude and “Hollywood” style when rumors of their troubles surfaced last month and brought a satisfying chuckle to many bloggers and analysts. Now, with the news yesterday of Jangl’s woes and Om’s report today adding Talkplus to the list of struggling Voice 2.0 companies, we’re seeing another wave of “I told you so” from around the net.

Sometimes the net can be like a second grader, very hurtful, and not very thoughtful.

It’s easy to slam someone else’s ideas, efforts, blood, and sweat with none of your own on the line. Putting forward an idea is hard – it takes a kind of bravery most people don’t have – it will be peer reviewed, scrutinized to the N-th degree, because everything is out there in public these days and everybody is an “analyst” (at least in their own minds). Attempting to build a strategy and execute around that idea is even harder – a lot harder. Even fewer people ever try that. If you really think it’s that easy, why don’t you try it yourself once.

It doesn’t take a genius to come up with an “explanation” for the failure of a startup after the fact. Usually such explanations are inconsistent with the practical realities of the situation, if not inane. It is much harder to come up with what will work, as opposed to what won’t work – bloggers and other analysts provide us with an abundance of the latter and little to none of the former.

Startups fail – at an alarming rate. The likelihood of a startup failing is much greater than the chance that it will turn out to be “a hit” – this is the game of startups. Anybody starting a startup (or investing in one) knows these odds. Startups are fragile – it doesn’t take much of a bump in the road to end the journey. Venture investors are also finicky and somewhat flaky – they do not share the passion of the founders. And the VC’s pretty much hold all the cards of a venture-backed startup, so what they say pretty much goes.

All I ask is that before you wax triumphant about your incredible prescience with regard to some startup’s failings, bear in mind that no matter how ridiculous the idea may appear to you, there are human beings involved here and many factors that are not apparent to those outside the walls – and the founders and others involved have feelings and likely poured significant quantities of blood, sweat, and especially tears into their bold efforts to pursue a dream.