What is one life worth?

A fascinating article, which is hard to disagree with, although the conclusion is a little counter-intuitive:

“Imagine that the captain of a $5 billion aircraft carrier let his ship sink rather than allow seven volunteers to attempt a repair, on the grounds that the odds favoring their survival were only 50 to 1. Such an officer would be court-martialed and regarded with universal contempt both by his brother officers and by society at large.” (from How Much is an Astronaut’s Life Worth?)

If you agree with this logic, it would be hard to argue with the case made in the article, that the top priority of a space mission should be Mission Success not Human Safety.

The article also very nicely puts a value on ‘excess’ expenditures for safety in space exploration by looking at how many lives could have been saved if those funds were spent on, for example, healthcare or immunizations.

XMarks is the only thing that will sync Safari with Firefox

And, it’s leaving us:

“The past four years have been a wild ride for us: growing something from nothing to substantial scale, providing a simple service that people love because it simplifies their lives. We’ve learned tons along the way, often by making big mistakes. We’re really sorry that this last lesson means that you’ll have to find an alternative to Xmarks, but the alternatives exist and you’ll have no problem finding them.” (from Xmarks Blog)

Again this shows how good ideas don’t always win.

This was an excellent idea, but perhaps it suffered from the classic-cliche-VC-quip “It’s a feature not a product”, or worse, “It’s a product not a company”. I don’t know how much money, not to mention blood, sweat and tears, was spent on trying to get it to achieve escape velocity but I can imagine that it was considerable.

Having built and attracted huge numbers of loyal users is a major accomplishment, even if it didn’t lead to a sustainable business. Kudos and all the best to the team.