This is an important text. It puts forth many good complaints and arguments on the prevailing VC startup culture and it’s implicit “no alternative” framework. Read it. Go on! And then come back.
Because here’s the thing.
It is published on a VC-backed platform. It gets furiously shared on another initially VC-backed network. (And this sharing is probably in 99 percent of the time happening on devices built by companies which themselves at one point got backed by VCs.) What a coincidence.
There is some irony here, right?
“I’m using VC-backed products every waking hour of my life. But I hate the VC world. It is so wrong! Why are you looking at me like that?”
Well, why do you? Why do use those poisoned products?
Here’s the answer. It is boring, there is no melodrama, it does not hint at a big societal struggle, an epic fight between good and evil: The answer is, as it is most of the times, that this is not black-and-white.
You can hate the VC dominance of the tech/startup media world. Everyone in the business world should realise the path dependencies coming with taking venture capital. But you should also realise that a lot of products being build today are only possible with VC money. Startups can and should be build without it if it is at all possible. And man, is a lot possible to pull off today without VC money. But the flipside of this rule is not that everyone taking VC money is a sucker, a douche or whatever. (Though some obviously are!)
Just because you don’t like to do business or live the way other people live doesn’t mean there is an easily recognizable line here between good and bad, between right and wrong. I personally certainly don’t want to build a startup working the whole time. And if I would, I would not want to do it with VCs on board for good pressure measure. I love my child. He’s 1 1/2. And awesome. You should hear him talking! His made-up words are the cutest. I want to be around him all the time. But that doesn’t mean I look down at people my age building big companies with lofty goals. Quite the opposite. I am amazed. I am amazed at the scope and speed of change. I am amazed by people who are builders and makers.
Why not try and change an industry instead of being just a part of it if you think you have a realistic shot at this?
Basecamp (formerly known as 37signals) is an awesome company. But so is (VC-backed) Slack.
Love and emprace the variety of the new stuff, from products to companies, and the whirlwind of change we are living through right now. Find your place. Try not to judge too much. (But don’t hold back either if you see douchebags being douchey. (Jeez, did I cover all my bases now?))
I sometimes think people have a hard time grasping the bandwidth of different company types that are being built today on and with the Internet. (I know that I have a hard time.) It couldn’t literally be bigger: It goes from the biggest, most influential companies in human history to a flood of one-person-shops. Hence what is right for one type of company is not necessarily right for another. (Yes, that is some deep shit right there.)
It depends. (BOOORING.)
But who cares, ideologies! One side is right, the other is wrong, amirite?
Disclosure: I’ve never gotten any VC money, neither did I ask for it (nor had I ever a project/product/startup I would have had to ask for). I work for a company that is not VC-backed (nor does it need that either). I’m not friends with anyone working as or for a VC. I use a lot of products from small companies that are as far away from the VC world as possible. (e.g. Pinpoard.in, iOS apps like Drafts, Castro or Editorial, Mac apps like Transmit, Byword or Marked) But I also use VC-backed products every waking hour of my life. Like everyone else reading this. In all cases I chose those products because they are getting the job done in the way I want it to. Puh.