Best quotes from founders at work


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Best quotes (more than 50) from the book "Founder at work" by Jessica Livingston
Full book review is at my blog.

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Best quotes from founders at work

  1. 1. Founders at work by Jessica LivingstonBest quotes from the book in this presentation. Full book review you may find at my blog. 1
  2. 2. Chapter by Chapter 2
  3. 3. 1 Max Levchin, Co-Founder PayPal• Quotes – They have totally changed the starting idea • But between the founding and the actual PayPal, it was just this tug-of-war where it was like, “We‟re trying this, this week.” Every week you go to investors and say, “We‟re doing this, exactly this. We‟re really focused. We‟re going to be huge.” The next week you‟re like, “That was a lie.” 3
  4. 4. 2 Sabeer Bhatia, Cofounder, Hotmail• creative definition of a business plan – A business plan is nothing more than your own communication to a person not sitting in front of you-an imaginary person who will read it. Try to answer every possible question that that person could raise. That‟s the description of a business plan, really. 4
  5. 5. 3 Steve Wozniak, Cofounder, Apple• Computer very generous founder, purely technical guy – “Rather than sell it to somebody who‟s already got a lot of money, why don‟t I give the Apple employees the opportunity?” We were going to go public soon and it was going to be worth a lot more (and was eventually), so basically I sold it to 40 Apple employees. Our legal department was very concerned because they were supposed to be sophisticated investors. They finally gave me the OK. I did the deal and sold it to them, and they each pretty much got a house out of it. 5
  6. 6. 4 Joe Kraus, Cofounder, Excite• there were 5 Stanford classmates, who started the company. Very vivid case of starting with friends attitude – We originally had the company divided evenly: everybody had a sixth. When investor came in...Graham and I went and had meeting with the whole team and said" we think we need to redistribute equity in a way that isnt even"...I dont remember the specifics of conversation. I remember it being very awkward and I remember it being quiet...I think you you need something stronger than greed pulling people together at that moment when greed alone would have caused huge fractures in redistributing. 6
  7. 7. 4 Joe Kraus, Cofounder, Excite (2)• about success – Some famous person said, “Success is 50 percent luck and 50 percent preparedness for that luck.” I think that‟s a lot of it. It‟s being ready to take advantage of opportunities when they arise. 7
  8. 8. 5 DanBriclin, Cofounder, Software Arts (producer of Visicalc)• You can fail big just one step from the huge success – We had been approached by H&R Block to buy our company for, I think, $50 million in cash, plus stock. It was based on the numbers we had. It was kind of bogus, but whatever. They had a division called CompuServe, and we were going to be bought by CompuServe. We had board approval from both sides. We got sued a day or two before the deal was consummated. 8
  9. 9. 6 Mitchell Kapor, CoFounder, Lotus• Development Kapor was a VisiCalc product manager at Personal Software when he wrote VisiPlot and VisiTrend, companion products to VisiCalc. He left to found Lotus just as legal conflicts were distracting VisiCalc’s developers, and the arrival of the IBM PC opened a window of opportunity for a better spreadsheet. – In the 60s where I came of age, business was not a cool thing. We were all counterculture people with long hair and sex, drugs, and rocknroll. It was 60s; I have the pictures to prove it. I dont remember any to if, but as someone said, if you can remember the 6os, then you werent there. But it turned out I also have some entrepreneural talent 9
  10. 10. 7 Ray Ozzie, Founder, Iris Associates• about technical founders – Understand that it‟s a rare, rare case when a tech entrepreneur is the right one to lead a startup for a long period of time. You have to feel comfortable in your own skin in terms of what you‟re good at and what other people are good at. Know when the shift to chief technologist is the right thing for the company. 10
  11. 11. 8 Evan Williams, Cofounder, Pyra Labs (• This story was the one of the best for me ! In 2011, after dot com crisis Pyra seemed near death. Williams remained as the only employee and managed to bring the company back from the brick. By 2003 Blogger had 1 million registered users. That attracted the attention of Google, who made Pyra the first acquisition – After my first company died, I did an inventory of the projects I had worked on in the last year. There were something like 30 projects that I had started on and not finished. Pyra was working on some big thing, but it appeared that real blockbuster was Blogger, a side project with little attention at the beginning 11
  12. 12. 8 Evan Williams, Cofounder, Pyra• Labs era dot com ( (2) – At that time it was pretty much the belief that, if you have buzz and you have users, you can raise more money – 2011 - Everybody left, and the next day, I was the only one who came in the office.• Simplicity – How far you can get on a simple idea is amazing. I have a tendency to add more and more-the ideas always get too big to implement before they even get off the ground. Simplicity is powerful. 12
  13. 13. 9 Tim Brady, First Non- founding Employee, Yahoo• Livingston: Any advice you’d give to someone who was starting a startup? – Brady: Part of it is “know yourself.” Try to do as much thinking up front as to what your breaking points are. One of the things I think I did well was that I never spent any time thinking about quitting or any of these doomsday scenarios, “Oh, God, what if this doesn‟t happen.” Before I joined, I knew where the line was, when I would quit, at what point, and so when I was in the game, it never crossed my mind. I also knew why I was involved, what motivated me, and I didn‟t spend a lot of time perse-verating on that stuff. 13
  14. 14. 10 Mike Lazaridis, Cofounder, Research in Motion, Canada• investment in talent – One of the things I realized was that to get strong co-op students, you had to start early because, by the second year, you‟ve lost them already to some other company. So we started hiring first- and second-year students, knowing that they were not really going to be full-time employees for 3 to 4 years after that. It was a 3- to 4-year investment we started making with students early on because I knew their value. We treated them like full-time employees. We‟re the largest co-op employer in Canada. 14
  15. 15. 11 Arthur van Hoff, Cofounder, Marimba• business plan – We exceeded our own expectations in the end. But a business plan is a tool that you use to sell the idea to VCs. The VCs look at it and say, “There‟re no spelling mistakes and the math seems right. But I like the people so let‟s invest.” A lot of the decision-making is very emotional. There‟s no formula that identifies good business plans versus bad business plans. 15
  16. 16. 11 Arthur van Hoff, Cofounder, Marimba• (2) about motivation to join startup – Everybody that joins a startup hopes to get rich. They also do it because it‟s fun, but you‟re taking a bet on winning a lot of money. But the odds are skewed against you because not a lot of startups actually succeed in fulfilling that bet.• about taking something, when leaving a big company – The funny thing is that they won‟t sue you until you‟re successful, because why sue someone who is a failure? And this is particularly important if you start out at a big company like Google or Amazon, because they have a lot of time and money to spend on these kinds of things. 16
  17. 17. 12 Paul BuchheitCreator, Gmail Paul Buchheit was Google‟s 23rd• employee. about changes – think, in general, people are uncomfortable with things that are different. Even now when I talk about adding new features to Gmail, if it isn‟t just a small variation or rearranging what‟s already there, people don‟t like it. People have a narrow concept of what‟s possible, and we‟re limited more by our own ideas about what‟s possible than what really is possible. So they just get uncomfortable, and they kind of tend to attack it for whatever reason. But for me, I am more interested in things that are new, and so I‟m always excited just to see what will happen. That was actually one of the biggest reasons I joined Google in the first place. 17
  18. 18. 13 Steve Perlman Cofounder, WebTV• what it means to work hard – What I would typically do is not sleep for 2 nights; then I would get 4 hours of sleep and go back to work for another 2 days in a row, and then get 4 hours, and so on. It was the hardest I‟ve ever worked in my life. Sometimes I‟d take 10-minute cat naps by just laying my head down on my shoulders-just so I‟d get some REMs. As soon as the dreams come, it resets your brain a little bit and you‟re able to work again. We were sleeping at our desks. 18
  19. 19. 13 Steve Perlman Cofounder, WebTV (2)• true personal commitment – Though we were quite frugal, it still was a high cash burn. We were just about out of money. So I mortgaged my house, liquidated all my assets, and brought in all the cash I could to help it.• power of testing – a story told to me by the Mac team-but they said that, when they first did the dialog boxes for the Lisa, instead of saying “OK,” it said, “Do It.” They found that people were reluctant to click on that, and they couldn‟t figure out why. Then, once they had a test subject there who just wouldn‟t click on it, they said, “Why didn‟t you click on that little button there?” He said, “I‟m not a dolt. Why would I click on that?” People were reading it as “dolt,” not “do it,” because it was an unusual combination of words. So they changed dialog boxes to say “OK.” That little change greased the skids for people to click on dialog boxes. It‟s very small stuff like that, very often-that somebody sees something and has the wrong impression. The only way to learn that is by doing a lot of testing. 19
  20. 20. 13 Steve Perlman Cofounder, WebTV (3)• Livingston: What has the potential to go most wrong in the first year when a startup is such a fragile organization? – Perlman: The worst thing that can happen to a startup is if the founding team-or the people who are leading the thing-do not get along. And it‟s deadly when they don‟t get along in front of the troops. • A synchronized view of the world doesn‟t mean you don‟t argue about things, that you don‟t have disagreements. You must agree on the philosophy, though, and on the vision. There are many ways to get there, but if you can‟t agree on the vision, then obviously you‟re never going to agree on how to execute. 20
  21. 21. 14 Mike Ramsay Cofounder,TiVo• success of the media product – I‟m not sure if people still get today that the combination of the technology development and the getting to market of a product, the development of a channel and the marketing and the brand building of that product, the management of the media companies and their desire to destroy you, and the management of this highly competitive situation every step of the way, where you had to win every day in the marketplace and worry about intellectual property 21
  22. 22. 15 Paul Graham Cofounder,Viaweb• finding the market – Graham: Before Viaweb we had a startup called Artix. We were going to put art galleries online. The problem was, art galleries didn‟t want to be online. They still don‟t want to be online. We spent a long time trying to convince these people to use something they didn‟t want before we had the idea that maybe we should make something people actually did want. 22
  23. 23. 15 Paul Graham Cofounder,Viaweb (2)• Livingston: Tell me a little about your relationships with your first customers. – Graham: We felt like we had to have five or six customers to launch. And for these first customers, we basically would do whatever they said in order to get them as customers. We gave them the software for free for as long as they wanted. We built their sites ourselves. If they needed to have images in them, we would scan the images. We were basically web consultants, because we needed users; you can‟t launch a thing like this without having any users. 23
  24. 24. 15 Paul Graham Cofounder,Viaweb (3)• difference in valuation – But they still wanted to buy us after that, so we arranged to have a meeting at Julian‟s loft in New York. One of our investors was a metals trader, so we figured that he must be a great negotiator and we‟d let him handle it. The guys from the big company said, “We want to buy you for $3 million.” And he said, “Well, I won‟t sell you the company for $3 million, but for $1 million, I‟ll sell you an option to buy the company in 6 months for $20 million.” At that point the guys from the big company just got up and walked out. 24
  25. 25. 15 Paul Graham Cofounder,Viaweb (4)• hiring CEO – It was such a relief to have someone who would deal with the investors, so that we could just write software and make users happy. That‟s all we wanted to do.• making yourself look better – If anybody ever did want to come and visit us, we pulled all kinds of tricks to make ourselves seem more legit. When that first giant company wanted to buy us and sent people over to check us out, all we had in our so-called office was one computer. Robert and Trevor mostly worked at home or at school. So we borrowed a few more computers and stuck them on desks, so it would look like there was more going on. 25
  26. 26. 15 Paul Graham Cofounder,Viaweb (5)• acquisition – So many companies play hard-ball in acquisitions. It‟s so stupid. Don‟t they realize that the people they‟re trying to squeeze are going to have to work for them afterward? Yahoo was very upstanding about the deal. • the point where people say, “We want to buy you,” the chances of it falling through are like 80 or 90 percent. So you can‟t let yourself believe. If someone wants to make you an offer, fine, but don‟t change your plans based on that. Just keep going. 26
  27. 27. 16 Joshua Schachter Founder,• Livingston: What were some of the biggest technical problems that you encountered? – Schachter: Scaling, inevitably. Scaling, dealing with bandwidth, dealing with routing, networks. This is for consumer Internet kind of stuff, but there‟s a great deal of stuff that you have to flawlessly execute on. It has to be done well, but everybody does it well, so it doesn‟t differentiate at all. 27
  28. 28. 16 Joshua Schachter Founder, (2)• marketing and PR – When this stuff started happening, I knew that you have x messages and when you talk to the press, any question they ask is answered with one of the messages. I understand talking to the press as an essential part of marketing. At the same time, I understand that the consumers are the best marketers. If they love your product and you give them the tools to market it, they will. 28
  29. 29. 17 Mark Fletcher Founder, ONElist, Bloglines• Livingston: So Bloglines was something that you created for yourself to use and then backed into doing a startup around it? – Fletcher: I had an inkling that it could be interesting, but I guess I thought it was a little ahead of the curve. I started ONElist because I wanted to start a mailing list for my parents, and at that time you had to download software and you had to have a computer connected to the Internet. It was just really difficult for an average person to put together a mailing list. So it was the same thing. I guess my advice is: solve a problem that you have, first and foremost, and chances are, other people may have the same problem. 29
  30. 30. 17 Mark Fletcher Founder, ONElist, Bloglines (2)• Livingston: When you were developing Bloglines, were you following a purposeful plan or were you just like, “Let’s build this product and see what happens. – Fletcher: My philosophy on these types of companies-consumer-based Internet companies-is that you don‟t need to worry about the business model initially. If you get users, then everything else follows. Basically any technology can be copied, any concept can be copied. In my opinion, what makes one of these companies valuable is the users. That can‟t be copied. 30
  31. 31. 17 Mark Fletcher Founder, ONElist, Bloglines (3)• time to sell – my PR person saying, “So it‟s been 2 weeks since we‟ve been in the Wall Street Journal. When are we going to be in again?” And she said, “Don‟t you dare expect this kind of stuff forever.” So you have to figure out when is the right time to sell, what you want out of an acquisition-both in terms of money and whether you want to stay on. Would you be happy with somebody else running the company? It‟s a very personal decision. And there are better times to sell than others. 31
  32. 32. 18 Craig Newmark Founder, craigslist• being non-profit – “Hey, let‟s run craigslist and see if we can run a nonprofit.” To make a long, painful story short, that effort failed. I kind of knew it was failing, probably mid-way through 1998, but I was in denial. A couple of our biggest job posters took me out for lunch and said, “Hey, this isn‟t working. Get real and make this more serious.” 32
  33. 33. 19 Caterina Fake Cofounder, Flickr• out of office work – There are a lot of companies that are virtual companies-a bunch of people that are living in different places, but I think that‟s tough. You can do it with one or two people, but I think for the most part, everybody being in the same place is important.• success – Livingston: What surprised you most? Fake: The whole thing has been a surprise. We started out expecting to do the game and we ended up doing a photo-sharing site. We never expected that, could not have planned that. Catarina Fake The success that Flickr has seen has been a huge surprise. Obviously when you start a business you hope and pray that it will be successful, but I think it‟s also something of a surprise when it actually happens. 33
  34. 34. 20 Brewster Kahle Founder, WAIS, Internet Archive, Alexa Internet• Livingston: Tell me about some of the most hair-raising moments. – Kahle: Going broke. When you just don‟t have enough money to pay the bills. We would usually live with the amount of money in the bank that would be about 2 to 4 weeks worth of the bills. We‟d never have more than that. If we got up to 2 or 3 months, we would think of ourselves as being flush. Living a bootstrap in a non-market-we‟re trying to make a market go based on making servers in a client/server publishing environment based on the Internet, that people didn‟t understand. So it was very difficult, but it was a good disciplining time. 34
  35. 35. 21 Charles Geschke Cofounder, Adobe Systems• predicting the market – I am not a hunter, never have fired a gun, but I‟m told that if you want to shoot a duck, you have to shoot where the duck is going to be, not where the duck is. It‟s the same with introducing technology: if you‟re only focused on the market today, by the time you introduce your solution to that problem, there‟ll probably be several others already entrenched. It will be hard to dislodge them, and hard to convince people that what you have is so much better that they should make a change. Much better to figure out where the marketplace is going to be in a few years, focus on providing a solution to that, and let the market forces catch up to you. 35
  36. 36. 21 Charles Geschke Cofounder, Adobe Systems (2)• individual approach – I remember, when we first hired people in the original days, John and I would take turns hand-delivering a dozen roses to the spouse if it was woman, a bottle of cognac if the spouse was a man, and then champagne to the employee. We did that for the first 18 months and then it got to be too much and we started giving it to them at work. I suspect we don‟t do that anymore. 36
  37. 37. 22 Ann Winblad Cofounder, OpenSystems, Hummer Winblad• recommendations – Whenever I‟m going to join a board, I will ask people for personal references. Your friends, your business colleagues, whatever. I‟ll address these references as these are not going to make or break this deal, but I want to understand this person. How do they work, how do they think? 37
  38. 38. 23 David Heinemeier Hansson Partner, 37signals David Heinemeier Hansson helped transform 37signals from a consulting company to a product company in early 2004.• Livingston: What were the features that people liked most when they saw it? – Heinemeier Hansson: The funny thing is that most people were impressed by all the stuff Basecamp didn‟t do. They were used to these big, honking products that tried to do everything, where they just needed something simple.• building the audience – Since they were already reading about what 37signals was doing, we went the other way around: first we built the audience and then we figured out a product. We blogged about Basecamp even before its launch, making previews, and it was viral from there. So it helped that 37signals had a big audience and had an easy way of selling into that audience. 38
  39. 39. 23 David Heinemeier Hansson Partner,37signals David Heinemeier Hansson helped transform 37signals from a consulting company to a product company in early 2004. (2)• Livingston: So, much of your innovation was driven by your own needs, rather than your clients’ requests? – Heinemeier Hansson: Very much so. It‟s good to be market-driven in the sense that you should know what‟s going on, but you can‟t let your customers drive your product development. You need to be able to innovate on behalf of your customers, but they often don‟t know what they want. And it‟s the same thing for programmers. If you went around and asked them what they wanted in a framework, you wouldn‟t get a good product out of that. You need to be able to source input from a lot of sources, and then have your vision of what it‟s going to be and then drive that. 39
  40. 40. 23 David Heinemeier Hansson Partner, 37signals David Heinemeier Hansson helped transform 37signals from a consulting company to a product company in early 2004. (3)• out of office work – Livingston: Was it challenging having several of the 37signals team in different places? Heinemeier Hansson: We view it as advantageous actually, because the 7-hour time difference leads to “alone” time. In a company where everyone is in the same place, it‟s very easy to walk down the hall and interrupt somebody. If you‟re part of a distributed team that‟s 7 hours off, you‟re bound to have a good portion of the day where you just get work done. There are no interruptions. 40
  41. 41. 24 Philip Greenspun Cofounder, ArsDigita• justifying outsource – Greenspun: People used to say, “Why should we pay you guys $30,000 to $50,000 a month to do this thing, when we can just hire our own programmer?” What I would tell them is, “Each company has one class of stars. In some companies maybe it‟s the salespeople, and in some companies maybe it‟s the mechanical engineers. There‟s going to be one class of people for whom it‟s really easy to hire more people like that.” Hospitals are a good example. If it‟s a good hospital, the doctors will be good, and it‟s very easy for them to hire good doctors. But it‟s hard for them to hire any other kind of person. Hospitals don‟t have really good advertising people; those people want to work on Madison Avenue. So we would say, “You‟re a very capable person, and you‟re going to have a very easy time hiring people like yourself. We don‟t know your business and we‟d have a hard time hiring someone like you, but we have a very easy time hiring someone like me, who‟s an MIT-trained computer science nerd. It‟s cheaper for you to use us, because we have really great programmers, and great programmers are a lot cheaper than mediocre programmers. So even if you give us a profit margin, it‟s still cheaper than doing it internally.” 41
  42. 42. 24 Philip Greenspun Cofounder, ArsDigita (2)• what programmers he wants – I want them to be able to sit at the table with decision- makers and be real engineers-to be able to sit with the publisher of an online community or an e-commerce site and say, „OK, I‟ve looked at your business and your goals; here are some ideas that we can bring in from these 10 other sites that I built, these 100 other sites that I‟ve used.‟ And be an equal partner in the design, not just a coder.” 42
  43. 43. 24 Philip Greenspun Cofounder, ArsDigita (3)• growth – There were some warning signs. Consider McKinsey, which holds itself out as one of the world‟s leading repositories of knowledge on how to manage a business. They say they‟ll never grow their company by more than 25 percent per year, because otherwise it‟s just too hard to transmit the corporate culture. So if you‟re growing faster than 25 percent a year, you have to ask yourself, “What do I know about management that McKinsey doesn‟t know?” • Livingston: If there was one thing you could have done differently, what would it have been? – Greenspun: The one thing would probably have been slightly slower growth, I guess. Not to worry so much about the competition, concentrate on getting really good people who shared the company‟s vision, who could be mentored to the point where they could then recruit somebody else. Basically, just limiting growth. 43
  44. 44. 25 Joel Spolsky Cofounder, Fog Creek• consulting and software – Spolsky: Absolutely. Remember, the original model was, “How can we become a big consulting company and then build a software company inside a consulting company?” The consulting company was a means to an end. It was to get cash flow, so that you could build a real software company. And when you were done, the theory was you‟d still have these consultants, but software companies often need consulting arms. 44
  45. 45. 25 Joel Spolsky Cofounder, Fog Creek (2)• coupons in software marketing – automatic email with a 25 percent-off coupon that you have to use in the next 72 hours.) When we launched that, it did increase our sales a little bit. It gets people to evaluate the demo version right away-because they don‟t want to lose their 25 percent off coupon which is going to expire. 45
  46. 46. 26 Stephen Kaufer Cofounder,TripAdvisor• looking for a business model – After a year and a half, we had closed one licensing deal, with Lycos, where they were featuring our content on their travel portal, and we were getting a revenue share on what they made selling advertising on the pages that we produced for them. Everyone else basically wanted to be paid to feature our content, and we wanted to get paid to have our content featured. So there was a pretty big disconnect. 46
  47. 47. 26 Stephen Kaufer Cofounder,TripAdvisor (2)• failure – You just want the failure to cost you a couple of weeks, a month or two-it depends on the industry-a small, fixed cost. It‟s the old adage: if we‟re not failing at something on a regular basis, we‟re just not trying hard enough.• hiring right people – But if I ever start another company again, I‟d love to have as a founding or very early team member someone who was a trusted recruiter. Because the difference in almost any position between someone who does a good job and someone who does a great job might be 20 percent more in salary, but it‟s 100 or 200 percent more in throughput. 47
  48. 48. 27 James Hong Cofounder, HOT or NOT• growth – We were panicking at this point. There was no plan for a business, it was just, “How the fuck do we keep this thing going?” We weren‟t trying to figure out what kind of boat we needed to build, we were trying to keep from drown-ing. But we did know a few things: we had to reduce our costs, we had to make it make money somehow, and we needed more machines. 48
  49. 49. 28 James Currier Founder,Tickle• Livingston: Which spark point would you consider most significant for Tickle? – Currier: The launching of the dog test. When we started the company, we wanted to change the world, and we had all these tests on the site to help people in their lives. We had the anxiety test; the parenting, relationship, and communication tests. And no one came. I remembered that advertising agencies say if you want people to remember an ad, include babies and puppies. So I thought, “We should make a fun test. Let‟s do a test for what kind of breed of dog are you.” So they came up with a 15-question test that wasn‟t scientific at all. We put it online, and 8 days later we had a million people trying to enter our site. 49
  50. 50. 28 James Currier Founder,Tickle (2)• Livingston: What was most surprising to you about starting a startup? – Currier: How painful it was. I woke up on October 3, 1999, at around 4 a.m. with my chest burning from fear and pain about not knowing what to do, and worrying that I had taken my friends‟ and mentors‟ money. I had realized that what I was trying to do was not working, and that I didn‟t know how to fix it and I was in way over my head. 50
  51. 51. 29 Blake Ross Creator, Firefox• attitude – We weren‟t trying to strike it rich with Firefox. It‟s open source and it‟s free. We weren‟t trying to take over the world; we had kind of modest goals, and it was OK if it failed. We were a lot freer to make risky decisions. If you can afford to do things that way, it‟s just so much better. You‟re not thinking about venture capitalists or marketing or sales. Just product and users, all day every day. 51
  52. 52. 29 Blake Ross Creator, Firefox (2)• marketing of software – Ross: I thought marketing was something that required a degree and formal experience. It turns out that marketing is just making the product good enough that people spread it on their own, and giving them ways to do that. It‟s a lot easier and more natural than I thought it would be. 52
  53. 53. 30 Mena Trott Cofounder, Six Apart• office – Having an office made a difference. Working out of the home is the hardest thing to do, because you can never leave work.• dont be afraid to charge – That‟s some advice for people: don‟t apologize for wanting to be a company. You see so many people who say, “Oh, we won‟t charge; things should be free.” It‟s like you don‟t think you‟re worth being paid for your time. I feel even more strongly about this when it‟s an entire company rather than just me and Ben. We can be kind of the fools that will work for free, but I‟m not going to make other people suffer for that. 53
  54. 54. 31 Bob Davis Founder, Lycos• growth – In a growth business-which is where you always want to be as an entrepreneur, because it‟s a lot more fun than the alternative-things are breaking every day. The accounting system that I used in ‟95 was useless in ‟98. The systems and the computers that I used weren‟t powerful enough 12 months later. The facilities that we would lease weren‟t big enough. The data center wasn‟t powerful enough to manage the computers we needed. Everything would crumble, and you needed to be one step ahead of that all the time. So amazing growth was a challenge, but it was an awful lot of fun. 54
  55. 55. 32 Ron Gruner Cofounder, Alliant Computer Systems; Founder,• living dead – One of the things that I think is dogma within venture capital is that you don‟t want to manage what they call the “living dead.” I don‟t know what the numbers are now, but back when I was working with venture capitalists, their rules of thumb were: typically one out of ten companies is a really big hit; roughly three out of ten go belly up pretty quickly, and you get rid of them. The other five to six are what they call the “living dead.” They grow nicely, organically, but don‟t generate spectacular returns, and they take management time and energy. 55
  56. 56. 32 Ron Gruner Cofounder, Alliant Computer Systems; Founder, (2)• about dealing with investors – The second thing was, having been chief executive at Alliant for 10 years, about halfway through that process I realized, “As the boss, I‟m spending 40 percent of my time on things that don‟t directly contribute to getting computers out to customers.” In other words, raising money, dealing with investors, dealing with lawyers, those kinds of issues. So I said, “In the next company I do, I want to be able to spend 98 percent of my time focused on the customer and only 2 percent on secondary factors that lead to that.” 56
  57. 57. 32 Ron Gruner Cofounder, Alliant Computer Systems; Founder, (3)• advantage of no VC in capital – At the time, I owned about two-thirds of the company, and I felt that just makes life so much simpler, particularly for me. But I think for everybody else, too, because we would sit in a conference room, talk about something, make a decision, and be going. We could make important strategic decisions in an afternoon if we chose to. 57