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A Summary of

General Magic and Silicon Valley Common Wisdom

by
Florent Crivello
Florent Crivello
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General Magic was a company founded in 1990 that set out to create smartphones. They were ahead of their time and employed people who went on to have major roles with Apple, Android and the US Government. Their visionary approach couldn’t overcome the fact that they were too early, and their product was too expensive.

Lessons from General Magic

  1. Early is the same as wrong.
    1. A good idea doesn’t ensure success.
  2. Don’t try to boil the ocean.
    1. Set practical goals.
  3. Talk to users.
    1. To make a great product, you must understand the customer.
  4. The importance of good managers.
    1. General Magic didn’t have managers, which led to some operational blind spots.
  5. Big companies aren’t your friends.
    1. General Magic signed deals with companies like Sony, AT&T, and Apple. These companies had conflicting missions and motivations.
  6. What makes Silicon Valley special.
    1. Despite the commercial failure, the innovative spirit of General Magic is what makes Silicon Valley special.
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