Search, start-ups, Treos, passion

I had drinks with some friends last night who work in the emerging tech, Web 2.0 space. It was GREAT to see everyone, and we had some marvelous talk about ideas and new tools, but after I crawled home way too late, some comments stuck in my head that seem worth sharing.
One friend, who has a small, nimble, start-up, said that big companies, even the Yahoos and Googles, seem to specialize in hiring the “grey people,”–people who aren’t highly creative or passionate and who are content to churn a lot of stuff out in trade for a Silicon Valley condo–And that few of the really creative, innovative types could stomach the bureaucracy in a big company.
Another friend commented that many of the people inside big companies had passion, but that the companies themselves sometimes lacked passion after a time–entrenched leaders and shifting focus could drag things down.
The third friend (this is starting to sound like the three kids on Passover), commented that while he worked 24/7, this was easier to do as an entrepreneur or part of a start-up than in a big company, where part of the trade-off for sucking it up was having your weekend free.
And moi? Among other things, I bitched about the golden leash of my Treo. Even when I turn it off, I have to put it somewhere so I won’t hear the 1 am pings of messages landing from obsessed Y! staffers who’ve put a baby stroller, a memory chip, or a batch of used games on the for-sale list before they went to bed (or finished writing code, or whatever). I never got one, because I knew I’d become addicted to checking email, and alas, that prophecy has come true.
We only lingered on these topics for a bit–Then, the rest of the night turned into a really interesting discussion of tagging, structured blogging, microformats, taxonomies, and all sorts of search-related bits that added up to possible ways to reinvent the future–And that was probably the best part right there–that we had enough interest and passion to sit at a little table in a bar, talking away about search, even as the waiters scrubbed the other tables down at 11:20 pm.
(Yes, I have become a hopeless geek.)