- Sep. 12 2012
- 1 Notes
- Sep. 7 2012
I would never trade a short-term burst for a long-term decline in morale. That happens a lot in the tech business: They burn people out and get someone else. I like the people who work here too much. I don’t want them to burn out. Lots of startups burn people out with 60, 70, 80 hours of work per week. They know that both the people or the company will flame out or be bought or whatever, and they don’t care, they just burn their resources. It’s like drilling for as much oil as you possibly can. You can look at people the same way.Jason Fried is a founder and CEO of 37signals
(Source: Fast Company)
- Aug. 10 2012
“Mark would speak about ‘connecting the world through games’ and ‘making users happy,’ but the stated values and our desire to create a good user experience was at complete odds with how the company was actually run, which was extremely short-term-focused,” the source says.
The source offered an example.
Every week, general managers from each of the company’s studios would convene with Pincus and other top executives and present revenue and user numbers from the previous seven days. If numbers were down, “the meeting would not be fun,” says the source. But to boost numbers, general managers would have “blowout sales” at the end of the period, which could potentially make a studio 10 times the average daily revenue. In other words, the studio would look good on paper, as least in the short term.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of thought about how we could optimize for what the numbers are going to be six months or a year from now,” the source says. “People talked about it, but the way the profit meetings were run, in practice, nothing ever got worked on.”Inside Zynga’s Fun House, Workers Say Games Are Over
- Jul. 21 2012
I succeeded as a cartoonist with negligible art talent, some basic writing skills, an ordinary sense of humour and a bit of experience in the business world. The “Dilbert” comic is a combination of all four skills. The world has plenty of better artists, smarter writers, funnier humorists, and more experienced business people. The rare part is that each of those modest skills is collected in one person. That’s how value is created.Scott Adams, “How to Get a Real Education at College”, The Wall Street Journal, April 9, 2011.
- Jul. 18 2012
The traditional metaphor for careers is a ladder, but I no longer think that metaphor holds. It doesn’t make sense in a less hierarchical world. […]
Lori [Goler] has a great metaphor for careers. She says they’re not a ladder; they’re a jungle gym. As you start your post-HBS career, look for opportunities, look for growth, look for impact, look for mission. Move sideways, move down, move on, move off. Build your skills, not your resume. Evaluate what you can do, not the title they’re going to give you. Do real work.Sheryl Sandberg in her address to the class of 2012 at Harvard Business School
(Source: Business Insider)
- Jun. 6 2012
- May. 3 2012
- 1 Notes
Much to the Pinterest team’s credit, they subscribe to the Facebook theory on how to build a really valuable business: You don’t worry about [monetization] for a while. You focus on one and only one thing, which is building a product or a platform that consumers love to use over and over again. If you have a rabid fan base among consumers, eventually you’ll have so many ways of monetizing it that you just don’t worry about that.Bessemer Ventures: Why We Invested In Pinterest | Fast Company
- Dec. 9 2011
- 12 Notes
I loved doing a good job. I liked delivering a project and the client saying, “this is amazing.” There’s a trick to doing this. And most startups do not pay attention to this trick although it is critically important. Do everything you said you were going to do. And then do ONE MORE THING. Anything. One extra button, one new feature, one thing that surprises. In every business I ever started I would do this. Believe it or not, even for my fund of hedge funds. With every single investor, I’d try to find them a girlfriend, with investors who were having down months I’d call them and try to cheer them up (as long as it wasn’t my fault!). These investors became like family.Should I or Shouldn’t I? (start a business) | TechCrunch
- Oct. 6 2011
- 102 Notes
1. If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough
My most humbling and educational career experience was when I was starting out in the tech world. I applied to literally hundreds of jobs: low-level VC roles, startup jobs, and various positions at big tech companies. I had an unusual background: I was a philosophy undergrad and a self-taught programmer. I got rejected from every single job I applied to.
The reason this experience was so useful was that it helped me to develop a thick skin. I came to realize that employers weren’t really rejecting me as a person or on my potential – they were rejecting a resume. As the process became depersonalized, I became bolder in my tactics. Eventually, I landed a job that led to my first startup getting funded.
One of the great things about looking for a job is that your payoff is almost entirely a max function – the best of all outcomes – not an average. This is also generally true for lots of activities startups do: raising money, creating partnerships, hiring, marketing and so on.
So, every day – to this day – I make it a point of trying something new and ambitious and getting rejected.
2. Don’t climb the wrong hill
I spend a lot of time trying to recruit people to startups, and I’m surprised how often I see smart, ambitious people who get stuck in fields they don’t like because they sense they are making incremental, day-to-day progress.
I think a good analogy for escaping this trap can be found in computer science, in what are known as hill climbing algorithms. Imagine a landscape with hills of varying heights. You are dropped randomly somewhere on the landscape. How do you find the highest point?
The lure of the current hill is strong. There is a natural human tendency to make the next step an upward one. People fall for a common trap highlighted by behavioral economists: they tend to systematically overvalue near term over long term rewards.
This effect seems to be even stronger in more ambitious people. Their ambition seems to make it hard for them to forgo the nearby upward step.
The lesson from computer science is: meander some in your walk (especially early on), randomly drop yourself into new parts of the terrain, and when you find the highest hill, don’t waste any more time on the current hill no matter how much better the next step up might appear.
3. The next big thing will start out looking like a toy
A majority of the top internet companies a decade ago are barely in existence today. How did this happen? These companies weren’t complacent – they were run by smart executives who were constantly aware that they could lose their lead.
The reason big new things sneak by incumbents is that the next big thing always starts out being dismissed as a toy. This is one of the main insights of Clay Christensen’s “disruptive technology” theory, which has been widely studied but I think is still rarely applied because it is so counter-intuitive to conventional management practices.
Disruptive technologies are dismissed as toys because when they are first launched they “undershoot” their users’ needs. The first telephone could only carry voices a mile or two. The leading incumbent of the time, Western Union, chose not to acquire telephone technology because they didn’t see how it could be useful to businesses and railroads – their best customers. What they failed to anticipate was how rapidly telephone technology and infrastructure would improve. The same was true of how mainframe companies viewed the PC, and how modern telecom companies viewed Skype.
The list of top internet companies in 10 years will look very different than that same list does today. And the new ones on the list will be companies that snuck by the incumbents because people dismissed them as toys.
4. Predicting the future of the Internet is easy: anything it hasn’t yet dramatically transformed, it will.
The Internet has gone through fits and starts – a bubble, a crash, and now a revival. Pundits are speculating that another crash is coming. Regardless of what happens in the near term, what we do know is that every year we will continue to see more and more industries succumb to the transformational power of the Internet.
Already transformed: music, news, advertising, telecom. Being transformed: finance, commerce, TV & movies, real estate, politics & government. Soon to be transformed: healthcare, education, and energy, among others.
Thus far the US has led Internet innovation. There are things the US can do to keep this lead, including: exporting the entrepreneurial ethos of Silicon Valley to the rest of the country, and allowing talented people to go where their skills are most needed – for example by changing US immigration policies.
Most importantly, we have too many people pursuing careers in banking, law and consulting. I personally encounter this bias all the time when I go to college campuses to recruit for startups. We need to convince the upcoming generation to innovate and take risks in sectors that have a direct impact on the quality of peoples’ lives.
So my advice is:
1) get rejected more
2) climb the right hill
3) create an amazing toy
4) grow that toy into something big that transforms an important industry