Ran across Will Hsu's Dead Blogs Walking post and it resonated with me on a both the startup and blog level. Will relates the, "fail fast" philosophy to blogs by pointing to a few blogs experiencing blog-post-atrophy. Applied to blogs, the theory says these blogs deserve a dignified bullet in the head death rather than live on with infrequentlyupdateditis.
"So I say this to these bloggers, treat your blog like a startup - dont
let your labor of love become labor of lame. Update more frequently or
shut it down completely. Other options include join something like
AlwaysOn where you can contribute to a community instead or opening up
your blogs to more contributors to keep it fresh. In the end, no one
likes the living dead."
RE: blogs, I completely disagree. First off, what does "shut it down" mean? Wipe it clean from the web? Hope not. Kill it with a "here's my bullet" post and then never return? Maybe, but what's the point of that if a month... or three later you've got something to say?
Besides losing your once-frequent readers, we've got Google and tags and PubSub and Technorati to keep people connected, so I say keep it up -- keep it going. If the point of blogging is to participate in conversation, I don't think fail fast applies. Conversation isn't a contest, and you haven't failed if you don't find yourself posting as frequently as you once did.
RE: startups, I wholeheartedly agree with fail fast. When I founded Inovie Software and launched TeamCenter in 1997, I didn't think 4 years later we would only have 15 employees and a couple million in revenue. Heck we were supposed to grow wildly like seemingly everyone else. But that didn't happen -- bootstrapping can be a slow process.
Yes I was constantly reminded and fearful we were becoming the "living dead." I guess you could say we were given our numbers. In the end we were acquired in a relatively small deal and thus not forced to experience limb loss of the "truly" living dead.
So did Inovie fail fast? 4 years ain't fast. And despite not experiencing wild success, I don't consider it a failure at all. But yes, I would have liked to done the same in 2 years and gotten back on the horse for a second go during that period of my life. Didn't happen, but I learned.
So fail fast is indeed a great mode for startups, but as Fred Wilson points out, it's "rarely that simple."