Taking a punt when the sky's no limit

June 20th, 2016 1:25 PM

By Southern Star Team

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YOU’VE heard of moonshine, both up in the sky and down the neck, and ‘sure, if moonshine don’t kill me, I’ll live till I die’. 

I recall happy days off the coast of West Cork sailing by moonbeams and we have all sung a bar or two of Blue Moon after a few too many … and then there’s Harvest Moon, need I go on? So you may think you’ve heard all there is to know about the moon. Well you haven’t. I have a new one and it’s straight from Wall Street: Moonshots.

So here’s what a Moonshot is: You come out of college, or preferably, drop out, in the States (Ivy League, Harvard, Duke, Stanford) and you start a technology business at 21. The world is your mussel. You create something like Apple or Microsoft or Facebook, to name a few, and you make billions before you are 30. You get the mansion, the private jet, the Prius (you hide the Roller) and then what? Eh, been there, seen it, done it. Boredom sets in. And then … you do a moonshot.

You go into the space rocket business and make SpaceX (Elon Musk) – commercial rockets that go into space and land again. You spend a fortune making driverless cars or Google glass (specs on which you can see the internet). You sell seats for space flights to the moon (Branson) and you invent ‘space elevators’ which are nano laser accelerators on which we can travel to stars. 

These are the next level and are called ‘Starshots’. Otherwise you swan around the world solving all of mankind’s problems (Bill Gates). Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame has a secretive company called General Fusion which is trying to create nuclear fusion energy and Mark Zuckerburg has promised to cure all diseases.

What they are, essentially, are tech entrepreneurs losing their marbles. In management theory, it is known as hubris. You are successful at something and think you know it all. Too many computer games I think. 

What they need is a week in Drimoleague or Durrus milking cows and shovelling manure and that will bring them back to earth fairly quickly, don’t you think?


Owen’s new short book for start-ups and business teachers, ‘How to be an Enterpriser’, is available at

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