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McClure’s point that “everything sucks” gets lost in everything else

Editor’s Note: Out of an aim to bring context and contribute to a healthy discussion that’s been spurred today, we’re posting the video of Dave McClure’s Big Omaha talk.

Dave McClure is the founding partner of 500 Startups, an Internet startup seed fund and incubator program in Mountain View, Calif. He has been living in Silicon Valley for more than 20 years and counts investments in more than 250 companies, including Mint, Twilio and TaskRabbit.

Dave McClure started his Big Omaha talk warning it would offend some people. He was right.

His focus was on the idea that “everything sucks and nobody notices,” but it ended up lost amid potentially offensive exchanges and an abundance of cursing, which quickly sparked a conversation on Twitter. Beyond that, he told the crowd there are plenty of common problems ready to be solved, even if we think of them as “too small.”

“We are extremely tolerant of suck,” he said. The recipe for a successful business model is to “notice something that sucks and make it suck less.”

McClure pointed to a number of industries that could use an overhaul but get forgotten by entrepreneurs because they don’t have billion-dollar potential. Airline and food service could use incremental innovation, but “that is not something we worship.” Everyone wants to be the next Zuckerburg, Jobs or Musk, he said, but argued it’s better to use those “mental giants” as a foundation and focus on improving design, marketing and other smaller steps.

Most of the talk was curse-laden, by design, but it was two interactions with audience members that got people talking as to where the line is on several issues, including sexism and positivity.

McClure acknowledged it didn’t go as planned, tweeting several times soon after he got off stage:

Check out the video above to understand the full content and context, then weigh in on the topics yourself in our comments section or on Twitter.

Following McClure’s talk, our founders, Jeff Slobotski and Dusty Davidson, offered an apology onstage to those offended by the comments.

Big Omaha is a two-and-a-half-day event that aims to inspire, educate and celebrate the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the heart of the Midwest. Produced by Silicon Prairie News, it’s part of the Big Series, the nation’s most ambitious events on innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Big Omaha Video Series is presented by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Based in Kansas City, Mo., the Kauffman Foundation is among the largest foundations in the U.S. with a mission to foster a society of economically independent individuals who are engaged citizens, continuing the improvement of their communities.

Credits: Video by Quadrant5. Snippet photo by Malone & Company.

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