It was the summer of 2003. I was in optimistic mood, having received my A Level results that confirmed my place at Oxford. I would be studying maths with the greatest minds in the country (or something to that effect; I can’t quite recall the precise wording in the prospectus). My only trepidation was that I was chosen by mistake — what if I was that guy who the tutors let in through error or misplaced sympathy?
On the business side the question is less about whether it’s better to be where we are manufacturing, and more about how we want to build our team and culture. I recently gave a talk at Wash U’s business school in St. Louis on how to launch and build a startup. One of the main things I focused on was the importance of setting a team culture and staying true to it as you build the company. The central question for us is do we want to have a team where everyone is in the same place or are we ok with a distributed team structure. There are examples of companies that have had great success building teams either way. On the distributed side, Automatic, whose runs WordPress, is one of the most talked about companies that has 100% of their team remote and distributed. Another, not so extreme example, is Kayak which started with both co-founders in different areas of the country (one in Boston and the other in NYC area) that grew separate teams in each office. On the other hand, I’ve spent the last 6 years at a company where having everyone in the same office was extremely important to building our team culture and our success as a company. There is no right or wrong way to do it. It has to do with the relationship of the co-founders, their leadership and management style, their personal situations and preferences, and how they decided they want to build and recruit their team.