Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ramblings on a Plane

I’m on a half-empty Swiss flight home. We’ve just passed a town called Caribou, Maine and are now heading for the Atlantic ocean. Here are some random thoughts.

A Great, Instantenous Experience

"You can’t just put a technology out there and hope there will be a business in it. You have to put together a whole consumer offering, a great instantaneous experience. A simple service that fills an obvious need and can be offered for free," says Niklas Zennström in February’s Wired Magazine. I like this quote because the formula fits all recent web hits: Google, Skype, and YouTube provided instantaneous results, communication, and entertainment, for free.

Santa Barbara

Should I ever decide to go to grad school, I’ll apply to UCSB first. They have a beach! ETH Zurich doesn’t even have a pool. I drove down there with school buddy Moritz and couldn’t resist the urge to jump into the Pacific. Wicked cold. After some drying off, we headed to a student bar: While I have many times praised the greatness that is American girls, I have to note that the cutest girl we met on this trip was actually German.

San Francisco

I love San Francisco. The hills. The Victorian houses. The fact that there seem to be a gazillion little places where you can get great French toast on a lazy Saturday morning. People seem approachable and laid back. Unlike New Yorkers, they have big dogs, not tiny ones. My friend and former roommate Peter whom I was visiting for a day seems very happy.

Amoeba Music

Amoeba Music on Haight Street is, in my opinion, the best place worldwide to physically buy music. They have a huuuuge selection, and in line with US used-goods culture, lots of ‘pre-owned’ CDs. Plus, you can actually listen to the music before buying: A custom long abolished on the continent. By far the most interesting, though, is the mix of customers in the store.

The MIT of Europe

Last week, I chatted a bit with my favorite essayist Paul Graham about my favorite topic of startups in Europe vs. America. Apparently, a Google search for “Silicon Valley of Europe” doesn’t yield a clear winner: Many are claiming the title. But a search for "the MIT of Europe" does give a conclusion: the sister schools ETH Zurich and EPFL take the crown! Nice job.

So there’s something to go back to! I’m hoping for snow and sunshine. Distance to destination: 4615 km.

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