The Role of Defensibility, Data, and Compute in the Tech Industry

Peter Buck

Hatched by Peter Buck

Aug 26, 2023

3 min read


The Role of Defensibility, Data, and Compute in the Tech Industry


In the ever-evolving landscape of the tech industry, startups face the challenge of establishing defensibility against competition. While some startups may have inherent defensibility, most need to develop and strengthen it over time. Additionally, the explosion of data in the past decade, coupled with advances in AI and compute capabilities, has reshaped the playing field, presenting new opportunities for both established incumbents and emerging startups.

Defensibility and its Emergence:

Defensibility is a crucial aspect for startups to consider, as it provides a competitive edge and protection against rivals. While not all startups start off with defensibility intact, it can be added and nurtured over time. This process involves building barriers to entry, such as proprietary technology, patents, or exclusive partnerships, that make it difficult for competitors to replicate or surpass the startup's offering. By establishing defensibility, startups can secure their market position and fend off potential threats.

Data and Compute as the Ultimate Flywheel:

The past decade witnessed an unprecedented explosion of data. From social media companies like Meta to e-commerce giants like Amazon, businesses leveraged this data to gain a competitive advantage in the tech industry. Data became the fuel for growth, enabling companies to understand consumer behavior, personalize experiences, and optimize operations. However, with the emergence of the AI era, the focus has shifted towards the interplay between data and compute.

Data and compute have created a powerful flywheel effect, driven by language models and AI algorithms. This flywheel generates an ever-increasing amount of digital information, fueling innovation and transforming software ecosystems. Large incumbents and startups alike are presented with unique opportunities to harness the power of data and compute to develop novel solutions, improve existing offerings, and gain an edge over competitors.

Connecting Defensibility and Data:

The relationship between defensibility and data is intertwined. Startups can leverage data to enhance their defensibility by utilizing insights derived from it. By analyzing customer behavior, market trends, and user feedback, startups can refine their products or services, making them more tailored to customer needs. This deep understanding of users not only strengthens defensibility but also helps in creating a loyal customer base, making it harder for competitors to lure them away.

Furthermore, data can be used to build proprietary algorithms or develop unique machine learning models that provide startups with a competitive advantage. By training models on large datasets and continuously improving them, startups can create defensibility through intellectual property and technical expertise. This data-driven defensibility becomes a valuable asset that sets them apart from competitors.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Prioritize Data Strategy: Startups should invest in building a robust data strategy from the early stages. By collecting and analyzing relevant data, startups can gain insights that inform their decision-making and product development, ultimately strengthening their defensibility.
  • 2. Embrace AI and Compute: To stay competitive in the AI era, startups need to leverage the power of AI and compute capabilities. By adopting AI technologies, startups can unlock new opportunities, improve efficiency, and create defensibility through cutting-edge algorithms and models.
  • 3. Foster a Culture of Innovation: Encouraging a culture of innovation within the startup is crucial for long-term defensibility. By fostering a mindset that values experimentation, continuous learning, and adaptation, startups can stay ahead of the competition and adapt to the evolving demands of the tech industry.


Defensibility and competition are inseparable in the tech industry. Startups must actively develop and strengthen their defensibility over time to withstand competition and secure their market position. The explosion of data and the evolving AI landscape have added new dimensions to the concept of defensibility, presenting both challenges and opportunities. By leveraging data, embracing AI, and fostering a culture of innovation, startups can navigate the competitive landscape and establish a sustainable competitive advantage.

Hatch New Ideas with Glasp AI 🐣

Glasp AI allows you to hatch new ideas based on your curated content. Let's curate and create with Glasp AI :)