Friday, August 21, 2009

Revisiting Alchemy, Valley Style

Let's be honest about this, the quintessential Silicon Valley entrepreneur is not that different from your typical alchemist dating back to the Persian Empire of 2500 years ago, as described by Wikipedia:

Alchemy (Arabic:al-kimia) (Hebrew:אלכימיה al-himia) is both a philosophy and a practice with an aim of achieving ultimate wisdom as well as immortality, involving the improvement of the alchemist as well as the making of several substances described as possessing unusual properties.

But wait, what about those less noble pursuits such as greed and let's-make-gold-out-of-cheap-metals bit?

Well, when you look at it closely, any human endeavor that can promise to get you close to "ultimate wisdom" and "immortality" (which apparently some believed to be possible through gold back in the day as the Wikipedia entry goes on to explain), inevitably becomes mixed up with financial gain and material success. And such, seems to be the lot of us Silicon Valley entrepreneurs as well.

So it is not surprising that many entrepreneurs find inspiration and motivation in Paulo Coelho's international bestseller, The Alchemist. As a matter of fact, I started my last company (jaxtr) after reading that book and finding it to be completely appropriate to quit my well-paying corporate attorney job and pursue a dream (thank you @paulocoelho).

This blog will not be about jaxtr, but about what I have learned from that experience, as well as my reflections on encounters with many other entrepreneurs, ideas and practices.


  1. I'm looking forward to more posts Tourag! I too quit my cushy job at the supposedly "world's best company in the world" [and with free meals too!!!] in search of making a bigger difference in the world...

  2. Thanks KameraKevin! Glad to hear that you managed to shake off those Golden Handcuffs.