Panning for gold versus selling pickaxes

In tech, companies can usually be categorized as panning for gold or selling pickaxes. In other words, a company either searches for value that it suspects to exist or it creates tools to help others in their quest to find value. While both can be highly profitable, they require different mindsets. So, it's important to make a conscious choice about which kind of company you'd like to be.

Like the gold rush, people are flocking to build companies around ideas like virtual reality and chat bots. Some hope to be household consumer brands, while others have chosen to play a supporting role. The companies building tools don't care who wins, as long as someone does.

Be sure to reflect on which mindset suits you better; while there are exceptions, typically you'll need to devote yourself to one or the other.