Musings on unicorns and statistics

The problem most people have with statistics is acceptance. Most people understand probability, even it’s implication on potential outcomes and yet when emotion comes into play and our sense of control takes over statistics become something to beat. 

That’s why it’s interesting to hear Bill Gross speak on TED on why startups fail 

Bill Gross claims timing, more than the team, the idea and the execution is the most important element. But timing is something we don’t control ( or it would have been relegated to second place by team or execution). 

So when people talk about growing unicorns ( legendary horned horse and companies worth over $1B ) they are like the person focusing really hard before throwing the dice. Unless the dice is rigged, the focus does not effect the outcome.   

What people should talk about and preferably act upon stems not from fighting the probabilities but by embracing them. If we use the dice analogy then the rules can be summed as

  • Create a conducive atmosphere to dice throwing 
  • Throw the dice as often as possible

In startup speak this means frugality in operations until the dice fall as you need. 


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