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How much is luck?

When I read tales like this one about the founding and consequent millions of dollars made from Excite it always seems that the element of serendipity gets glossed over in a sort of "if I wasn't at the table rolling the dice I wouldn't have won" sort of way, the implication being that being willing to roll dice is the key factor in the success. To a limited extent that is true. Football players don't hit home runs. But what about the role the dice themselves play? And what about the thousands of losers who also rolled the dice and didn't win? I've heard that Venture Capitalists expect one out of many of the ventures they fund to succeed. We get to see the story of the 1 and the story of the 99 are swept out with the trash.

The stories also point out that some sort of network is essential. You can increase your chance of winning by buying more lottery tickets. And the post-success stories show that once you have won, the network comes to you. People are willing to bet on you again, or at least they are willing to suck up to a billionaire.

I guess the question I'm asking is that are those few who hit the $billion mark really that much smarter or working that much harder? To be honest, I don't always think so. I'm not convinced. Sometimes being in the right place at the right time is the key factor. The stories of the losers would be an interesting place to look. The stories of the winners tell us less than what we need to know.



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