One the core questions we ask when analyzing a start-up idea is the scalability. And we talk about scalability, we focus on two areas: the technology and the people.
OK, so obvious what is meant about the technology...sometimes something works nicely in a demo implodes with the stress of real deployment. The early wizardry of Google was figuring out how to quickly (and cheaply) add computing power. Today is not so different, as Sergei and Larry are focusing on how to power [literally] their business cheaper and more efficiently.
Now we also focus on the people. Are these the people that can scale with the move from idea to business? Can they scale along with the business? It's a very different thing to manage a company of three than thirty, three hundred, or three thousand. What I love is the 0-30 stage. After that I don't scale so well.
As we await the visit next week of President Bush to Jerusalem, and the focusing of the world media on the earthly Jerusalem, we should think for a minute about the scalability of Jerusalem, both in terms of its "technology" (the physical city itself, it's infrastructure) and its people.
On a physical level, Jerusalem is a city on a hill (actually many hills). With a current population of roughly 750,000, Jerusalem each year enjoys somewhere between 1-2 million tourists. In modern times we have never gone above 2 million. Now, just for comparison, Manhattan has about 2 million residents (and is relatively flat), but gets 47 million tourists a year. Are we ready for that scale on a physical level? Nope. Can we scale up? Maybe. But it won't happen by itself. Takes a lot of planning, marketing, strategic thinking. Much of our tourism is centered around historical sites...can they take a 20 fold increase in traffic? Maybe.
And what about the people? Well, historically Jerusalem was a city of mass pilgrimage. My good friend Sami Abu Dayyeh, owner of Netours (largest tour operator of religious tourism in Holy Land), believes that if we the people of Jerusalem learn how to work together, we can bring in tens of millions of tourists without major problems. We could have charter flights coming directly to Jerusalem, with cheaper hotels on the outskirts of town, with smart planning for entrance to various holy sites. Just think, people wait hours on line for a ride at Disneyland (and with technology many rides have timed admission to avoid the lines). More people visit Disneyland Paris in a given year than Jerusalem! If we, the people living here, share a common vision, and put in place the right management, Jerusalem is imminently scalable.
But if we continue to argue about who owns which rock, we will remain where we are now--with a conflict that is very scalable, unfortunately, and a reality that is very limited.
May Jerusalem be blessed with management that can take it to the next level and beyond. I'll help where I can...