XYO and the Power of Persistence
Wednesday morning, after one of the most gut-wrenching hours in the life of XYO, a somber hush fell over our headquarters. We are not, by nature, a quiet company. So you can only imagine the unfamiliar, almost offensive intrusion of silence in our once-bustling back room.
Surrounded by empty desks of talented, hard-working people — the very best — who had departed for good just a few minutes prior, our remaining squad — this girl included — began to really process the gravity of what happened.
Unless you’ve been there, it’s difficult to understand the complex feelings that bubble to the surface when you release the people who poured heart and soul into your vision, and donated so much time and so many ideas and so much sweat to make it work on such a tight timeline.
Of the remaining people, few words were said. But looks were in abundance. We knew what was happening.
It was time to press on. And that can be terrifying.
The very phrase, “press on”, carries a kind of basic, generic meaning. To lean in, when others would flee.
But to the business owner, the co-founder, the developer, the accountant, the writer, the operations manager, the young upstart and so many others, it is as heavy and deep as any word you could ever imagine.
I consider myself a voice for this company. Not THE voice, but definitely A voice. And I rarely write from the heart — I see myself as an instrument, not a composer.
But I couldn’t let another day pass without speaking honestly about the now.
For the XYO family members who are confused and nervous right now, these words are for you.
For the angry foundling HODLer who has lost confidence in our company, these words are for you.
For the lurker who has already cashed out or has their finger on the “sell” button, these words are for you.
And for the person who came across this page by some janky way that couldn’t be duplicated if you tried a million times over, yes. These words are for you, too.
So, here it goes.
The term “Press On”.
It comes from the very phrase that gave our company its name, “XY — The Persistent Company”.
Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and Determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.
— CALVIN COOLIDGE, 30th US President
What is happening right here, right now, at XY is not unprecedented. It is not new in the world of tech. And it is especially not new in a space that has crushed ambitious blockchain startups without a single ounce of mercy or regret.
This is a space where the code of the future is still being written, right now, and where the brightest minds, the people who think BIG — feel a tremendous urgency to make things work, immediately.
We’ve seen it happen with some of the most admired and successful companies on this planet, in days — and years — gone by.
If you lived during the dot.com bubble, you’ll understand.
The mid-1990s to the year 2,000 was a time of missed chances and miscalculations and recalibrations and redemptions. There was decadence and joy, and then…fear. Many of the companies that survived, the ones that didn’t burn through all their capital before they even launched, were hit with a powerful clarity.
That powerful clarity was change. It was a foot slamming on the brakes. It was a jarring, instant return to focus.
When you go to watch a video these days, on your phone or on your computer, there’s a huge chance that you go straight to YouTube. It has no equal. But YouTube wasn’t always…YouTube. In 2005, YouTube launched as a dating app. Its tagline? “Tune in, Hook up.”
When the company founders saw that people just weren’t into YouTube as a dating app, the team changed course. They crammed the site with videos of other things. Their theory: Even videos of airplanes taking off and landing would be better than nothing.
They could have quit when the first version of YouTube floundered.
But they didn’t; they pressed on.
Soon users began populating the site with their own non-dating content, from cooking demonstrations to vacation clips. Spoiler alert: it worked.
Less than two years later, YouTube sold for $1.65 billion.
Paypal was originally created to send payments to Palm Pilots. Netflix was a mail-order DVD company that pivoted to downloading, streaming, and then creating original content. Yelp! Pinterest. Twitter. They all hit a point requiring them to change their strategy. They all hit a point that tested their persistence. These are just the stories that get the most attention.
You backed XY and XYO.
You invested your time, your energy, and your belief in our ambitious goal of combining blockchain with geospatial technology.
But at the end of the day, you bonded with a company that thinks BIG. That is us. We know no other way.
And neither do you, because if you did, you probably wouldn’t be here, reading these words.
Don’t think for a second that we’re not thinking of all you’ve put in. All you’ve given to us. How you’ve put your reputation out there as you’ve bragged to friends and family about what we’re doing. How you’ve given us something every business strives for, but few actually capture.
We know that trust, for some of you, is in short supply right now.
But, here’s the thing. For the people who just can’t fathom XYO on other planets, or running in millions of smartphone and IoTs across this world, there’s nothing I can really say to change your perception or belief. And that’s okay — that’s not my intention. I too, am a skeptic. I’m not big on trust. Not at all.
But I can only tell you that from where I’m standing, from what I’ve seen here at this company after being here for a year, this is not a company that gives up.
This is not a company that says “it’s not possible”.
This is a company that is playing a long, complicated game with many twists and turns. It is a company that will keep trying. And trying. And trying.
So what you will see going forward is a return to basics. A tighter game. Less fanfare, less marketing. More focus.
But we will not give up on our BIG plans. Sorry. If that’s what you’re asking, that would be a no.
And when we’ve got millions of arrows incoming, and the odds are stacked against us, and we’re huddled in a tight little group waiting for that tidal wave to hit…
…yes, my friends.
We will fight in the shade.