Secrets of the Unicorn — Blitzscaling as a Family

It’s interesting to me how much energy and effort we put into figuring out the “unicorn” startups of the world. I mean it makes sense given our human nature. We constantly look for patterns — for the “why?” behind nature’s phenomenon. As soon as startups take off, they leave a trail of people to figure out the physics. It reminds me of how I feel when tourists walk by Memorial Church taking pictures of everything in sight. It’s as if they’re observing/studying a whole new species in its native habitat. In the same way, we’re all trying to synthesize and rationalize the startup scene in the valley.

That brings me to blitzscaling. I believe the premise of this class is to equip us with the knowledge to scale quickly and effectively. So far in the class, we’ve talked about what makes a good founding team and what investors look for in early stage startups, but I don’t believe we’ve talked at all about early scaling on a practical level — frameworks to balance priorities in real situations and actually discussing case studies. It quite honestly feels like a lot of fluff so far, and I’m hoping that aspect of the class changes — since otherwise it’d be far more valuable for our class to just hack together/hangout during class than listen to speakers. I know I at least have had enough people talk about startups on a high level in my life.

That said, there have been pearls of wisdom in the class so far. I really appreciate Sam Altman’s firing advice with regards to respect and empathy for the fired employee. In addition, I feel like Sam epitomizes optimal productive efficiency in many ways. He minimizes dead weight loss in both his personal life and the way he approaches startups. That fine-tined efficiency and optimization for value/time is a critical tenant for startups. In addition, I found the historical GDP/capita data presented by Michael fascinating. Furthermore, it’s interesting how transportation played such a fundamental role in the evolution of technology, especially in the context of companies like Uber and Lyft. Lastly, I find value in Reid’s approach to firefighting. It’s important to know what fires you should put out and which ones will die on their own. Time being the constraining resource for most people’s lives.

Overall thus far I’ve learned our class has a pretty badass group of people and I’m looking forward to getting to know them better. That said, the actual information conveyed in class through lecture doesn’t carry the same value/time as I hoped. If you were to consider many of the most successful founders, I’m not sure if many studied entrepreneurship to the extent that we often do now. I mean sure, we can make case studies and propose theories as to why startups succeeed…but at the end of the day, I feel like you just gotta for it. If you care enough about an idea, you’ll make it work.