Victus Spiritus


Memes, Viral Social Patterns

09 Jun 2010

While reading a post by Fred Wilson yesterday about passing it on I couldn't help but think about the viral patterns that can be nourished into thriving businesses. The knowledge exchange Fred describes in his post is a concentrated investment methodology that is passed on from senior to junior partners. If the knowledge and skills transferred are based in fundamentals which transcend current markets variations they will survive and spread. My comment there laid the foundation for today's riff:

Viral patterns within VC investing. The groovy part about what you're seeing is that if the strategies and concepts Milton and Bliss passed on to you survive "mutations" with each new investor generation they'll eventually be part of the entire industry.

That moment of pride is what many founders also look for, when a business they help breath life into goes from a pattern in their imagination, into a self sustaining engine that converts ideas, information, and man hours into revenue. From my limited vantage point the miracle is in creating jobs that people absolutely love, from which the business and it's customers profit.

The transition of ideas and experiences into viral social patterns represents a broader meta pattern. The features of this meta pattern are as diverse as the forms of life on Earth. Some wildly successful patterns are flash fires which burn out as quickly as they begin. Others are slower growing and steadily build with each generation. Nearly all viral social patterns reach a point where they fail to serve a purpose and diminish faster than they spread, effectively dying out.

Instead of chasing after catchy phenomenon, a more productive investment of time and resources is to invent or recognize fresh opportunities within our areas of expertise. At this moment each of us is capable of identifying and cultivating patterns that may grow far and wide. Initiating these memes takes only action, while eyes beyond our own judge their worth. Understanding how others value shared patterns is crucial to intentionally sparking lasting memes. Focusing on a narrow social group is one way many small businesses come about.