Pulled in to the tiny hamlet of Rescue, CA just in time for the rain. i came up here to see my best friend and my Godson to to manage a controlled yard trash burn. Of course it started to rain just as i whirred through Sacramento headed East.
I love Sacramento and have always been attracted to this Central Valley town. It's literally the birthplace of California and its technology economy. When the 49ers exhausted the supply of two-pound gold nuggets lodged in crevices in the Yuba and American Rivers, they turned to industrialized mining. The risk capital supply for those early technology investments had deep roots in the Sacramento economy. Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins and other members of the "Big Four who went on to found the Central Pacific Railroad, were all successful Sacramento merchants who made money investing their own funds in risk capital ventures. They failed more than they succeeded in th early days. In, fact, from what I've real, they didn't make near as many investments as John Augustus Sutter, whose mill was the site of the fabled Marshall Gold Strike (about two miles from where I'm writing this. Sutter and Marshall both died broke and alone, and never made much money from gold, In fact it took Sutter's son John Sr. two years to get his father's record's in order. but when the book keeping was done, Sutter Jr. made one of the wisest investments possible in California. He transferred title from his father's Mexican Land Grant, to US ownership and put the family to work planting wheat and fruit trees. John Jr. died rich by mid 19th Century standards and his strategy is one that still works: Don't bleed to death from a million cuts and nicks from life on the bleeding edge, invest in infrastructure. In Sutter Jr.'s case his play was to supply miners with fresh fruit, produce and limited drayage. It worked and it was a steadier revenue stream than digging for gold and freezing his butt off deep underground in a hard-rock gold mine.
Every time I pass through Sacramento I think of Sutter, his son and other California economic pioneers. Gold was nice, but everyone wanted fresh fruit and would pay top dollar for it delivered to the camps, deep in the Sierra Mother lode. Thinking of the standards that were set by the Sacramento risk takers 160 years ago My pulse quickens as i scoot eastward on highway 50. They're spirit lives on in a university established by a pompous ass named Leland Stanford, in memory of a son who died at 17. Establishing Stanford University may have been the single greatest thing Leland Stanford ever did. And the money for that investment passed right through here in Sacramento. The idea of pioneering a railroad using government risk capital and guaranteed land on either side of rights of way was planned and executed right here in Sacramento too.
I'm writing this as a reminder to myself and others that successful entrepreneurship is a function of managed risk taking,dedication and the ability to take an idea and see it through to completion. What I've learned about technology entrepreneurs is that the best ones aren't afraid of failure and that they learn to profit from their mistakes. Nothing brings this into focus more clearly for me than thinking about some of the California pioneers. They came from somewhere else, adapted themselves to the economy and countryside and put down roots that helped nurture the fifth largest economy in the world.
Even here in remote rural Rescue, at the edge of the El Dorado national forest, there are entrepreneurs working on new WiFi, networking and other products that will help feed the technology infrastructure and which could also lead to a new bonanza, from right here, two miles away from the Marshall Gold Strike Site.
Right now, it s pouring buckets of rain as i try to burn a nine-foot long pile of yard waste using about 200 pounds of pruned oak branches I reserved in a dry place three months ago. It's a "burn day" in Rescue and I have to go free my pyro gene.
From, Rescue, CA in the rain next to a flaming pile of wet grape prunings, old grass and leaves and a lot of oak branches,s with about 2.5 hours remaining on my Think Pad X41's battery.--Jim Forbes