Until about 2000, perhaps even 2005, the term genius was used for artists, scientists and philosophers. I think of Andrew Wiles staring at sheets of paper in his Princeton office as he contemplated Fermat’s last theorem. Or Miyazaki spiriting us away into a magical kingdom. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were smart, talented and very very rich but they weren’t geniuses.
Not anymore. There’s absolutely nothing that entrepreneurs can’t become if they set their minds to it. They can be creative, they can be wise, they can fix the climate and end poverty and at the end of it all count their billions in their Palo Alto garages. Like so many other words before them, creativity and wisdom have succumbed to the charms of commodification and have become creativity 2.0 and wisdom 2.0.
While rumors of startupman have been circulating since 1998, he was first spotted on earth in 2011, after the recession had receded a tiny bit and money was flowing through Sandy Hill once again. Startup man is the universal being of our times. He is scrappy and tough. Complex engineering problems are a piece of cake for him. Most importantly, he can raise money from old white men like a hill in Boston was named after him.
Startupman’s gifts don’t stop at engineering and business; he can write novels and organize expeditions to Mars. He can meditate to end world hunger while playing the guitar. I am waiting for the startupman app. Rumor has it that Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon are all working on one, but I bet you there’s a kid in a basement somewhere who’s going to beat them to it.