I think the statement he made holds solid ground. But I don’t agree with his claim of “one simple fact: everybody copies” or that “everybody copies the best”.
I’m not going to discuss why I don’t agree with his claim in a blog post. The word “copy” is not a black-or-white verb. Like many other words, “copy” is relative and is a spectrum: how far into the original, is something valid to be said as a copy of another? If I have a song that has similar intro to another, does that mean I copy that song? What if the song is 10 minutes long and the intro only makes up 1/50th of the whole song? You get the point, it’s a very grey area.
Not to mention the unavoidable convoluted disputes on who is the true original.
Originality is largely irrelevant to a business success.
What is truly important for businesses (and also startups, for that matter) is not orginality, but rather, sustainability. Originality does not entail sustainability which is the hallmark of a successful business. Vice versa, the business graveyard is full with those who used to claim they were the pioneer. The claims might have been rightly so, but virtuous they’re now not.
And to attain sustainability, startups must focus on is delivering value by solving real world problems. The moment there’s no value delivered, business start to wither away. If “delivering value” entails taking an idea from an existing business, then so be it.
Facebook was not the first social network. They had to pay to take over patents from Friendster. Google was not the first to come up with vickery bidding system for search engine, Overture did. But do you see what they’re really good at? Delivering value.
Solve our problems, is all the world asks for from a startup. Originality of the solution is just icing-on-top of a superbly-fine delicious cake; a nice addition. Focus on the cake, not on the icing. For icing does not fill up the tummy.
P.S. With this post, I don’t mean to support plagiarism. That is just completely wrong. I simply want to emphasize on what truly matters, which is to deliver value.