Originally published in the macro on May 11, 2016.
Many hackers-turned-founders understand that sales is an important and valuable skill, but shy away from doing it out of fear and uncertainty. What if I told you that being a great enterprise sales person uses the same skill set as being a great hacker? You just need to reframe what sales is.
Before I get started I want to point out that this article is focused on early stage companies — those who are still in the ‘wild west’ stage of figuring things out and do not yet have an established repeatable sales process and organization. …
An interesting challenge with building self-driving cars is that deterministic rules must be programmed into the system. Human drivers, however, don’t operate with such determinism.
Consider a traffic scenario where an oncoming vehicle swerves into your lane and you must maneuver out of the way. You can veer to the left, where there happens to be a pedestrian that you will hit, or veer to the right where you will crash into a car containing a mother and a young child. Both alternatives available to you will lead to injury or possibly death of innocent people. …
We all face it. We have our lists and plans and strategies. We know what we need to do. But sometimes we just can’t bring ourselves to do it. We work on everything else BUT what we know is most important. We come up with reason after reason. We procrastinate.
I recommend reading this book:
One of my employees shared a concern in a recent check-in, and it reminded me that it’s a concern I too have felt over the years:
“I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything concrete that I can touch. [This new project I’m working on] will hit that dopamine button.”
I touched on this point in another article. I noticed that as I transitioned from writing code to running the ‘business’ side of companies that I’ve started, I found it more difficult to concretely measure progress.
Here are a few techniques that I’ve discovered help me.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about big ideas and how hard they are to work on.
I’m not talking about how hard it is to solve fundamental problems in science and engineering (although those are certainly hard). Rather, I’m talking about how hard it is to actually commit to working on big ideas. I think most entrepreneurs dream about changing the world in a meaningful way (and hopefully making a lot of money in the process), but if you look around Silicon Valley it often seems like the majority of entrepreneurs aren’t working on big and meaningful problems. Why is that?
I think we often start out with a big idea idea in mind. It’s what gives us that jolt of adrenaline when the idea first comes to us, and powers us through many hours of sleepless nights as we flesh out the details. …
Originally Published: June 19, 2012
One trick I’ve found when starting a company (and it’s particularly useful at the very start, before you’ve launched a product) is to create external deadlines.
It’s hard to be sufficiently motivated by internal deadlines and plans. When there’s no clear negative consequences, it’s all too tempting to slip a deadline by a few weeks in order to add an extra feature or to fix a few bugs. However the most important advantage a startup has is speed, and in most cases the best thing you can do is to get your product out there and in front of real users and customers as quickly as possible. …
Originally published: July 2, 2013 at Business Review Weekly.
Mainframe computers. Desktop computers. Laptops. Smart phones. What’s next in the evolution of computing platforms? We are seeing the early signs that the next wave will be in the form of wearable computing.
Perhaps the most visible of these technologies is Google Glass — the new wearable headset computer launched by Google’s infamous ‘moonshot laboratory’ known as Google X. …
Originally published: April 10, 2013 at Business Review Weekly
Communication behaviour is changing. SMS, IM, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat, Cinemagram, Vine. If you haven’t heard of all of these products your kids certainly have, and these products are the best map we have for predicting the future of communication.
My first ‘aha’ moment came from an unexpected place — not from a psychologist or a technology entrepreneur but from Ashton Kutcher. You may recall he was the first Twitter user to reach one million followers so he knows a thing or two about social media.
When responding to a question at a recent private gathering of investors and technology CEOs, he explained a spectrum of communication tools, from simple text such as SMS, through photo sharing, and video sharing on the far end. …
Originally published: April 10, 2013 at Business Review Weekly.
“We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.” These words greet visitors to the Founders Fund website, one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent investment firms, and some people are asking whether Silicon Valley really is innovating any more. The root cause seems to repetitive social-mobile-local-app-for-sharing-what-I-had-for-lunch launches. However, I believe we are witnessing the beginning of the next great revolution: the world of synthetic biology.
The field of genetics has now advanced to the point where we can apply actual engineering. No longer are we content with simply discovering and manipulating DNA; we are able to design and engineer completely new forms of life. From scratch. It’s just like software engineering, except the software is not binary code but DNA and the hardware is not a set of semiconductors but a cell. In fact, several leading engineers behind today’s internet have already migrated to the field. Don’t take this to mean innovation in web and mobile software is dead. …
Originally published: October 7, 2010 at 500.co
To many entrepreneurs, the process of getting acquired seems like a black box. I suspect this is because far fewer acquisitions happen than, say venture financings (about which a lot has been written), so there are a lot less data. Also there are generally very strong confidentiality agreements in place protecting the terms of these deals.
I’d like to write a little about this topic since it’s something I’m often asked about, but bear in mind I too am bound by confidentiality agreements regarding the sale of my company, so I won’t be able to go into the specifics of our deal. …