Once in a while I meet an enthusiastic startup founder who says he “will do whatever it takes to make his company successful.” If I were a potential investor I would grill such a founder like this:
Since I got my first Kindle my reading habits started to change. That was a few years ago, so the change has been very gradual. Here are some differences:
I never do this, but I thought I’d give it a try. Here are my New Year’s Resolutions for 2012. Because it’s my first time I’ll go easy and see how it turns out. I’m shooting for at least five.
- Tweet once a week or more.
- Wait at least a week before buying the new Apple gadget.
- Solve one interesting differential equation (interesting to me, of course).
- Memorize the NATO phonetic alphabet, and use it when I spell words on the phone.
- Not let the milk in the fridge go bad.
- Turn off all electronic devices before takeoff. No airplane mode, no cheating.
- Resist the constant impulse to buy a Boeing 767.
- Take a picture of a tourist taking a picture of other tourists. The more meta, the merrier.
- Wait until the last beep of the microwave before opening it.
- Stay the course. Keep flossing.
- Read one random book from the Gutenberg project. If possible, enjoy it.
- Stay hungry, stay foolish until lunchtime.
- Learn a new programming language, write “Hello World!” in it, and promptly forget about it.
- Honk at a stranger for no reason on the 4th of July.
- Avoid climbing Mount Everest. It’s dangerous, and I already have plenty of conversation topics for cocktail parties.
- Wash the car once, and celebrate it with a shot of the best wheatgrass money can buy.
- Live every day to the fullest extent of the law.
I was just reading Fred Wilson’s post Mocked And Misunderstood.
When people ask me, “how do you know which companies and services are going to be the biggest successes?”, I usually tell them to look for the companies and services that are mocked and misunderstood. For some reason, that correlates highly with the biggest breakout successes.
I just did the following experiment:
The intent of this post is to save you time. Pitching to VCs takes a lot of energy, and it’s easier if you prepare correctly. More importantly, you must know whether it makes sense to do it given what you have to offer.
Over the years I’ve heard people repeat the idea that Google is an “objective search engine” because they allow their algorithms to reflect “the voice of the web.” This sounds great in theory, but in practice it implies two things:
- There is such a thing as “the voice of the web.”
- Google can be a perfect mirror of such voice.
Here’s a video in which a few Google insiders talk about how Google Search works. At one point the moderator (Danny Sullivan) asks if Google ever manually tweaks results. He brings up one time when the top result for the query “Jew” was an antisemitic site. Amit Singhal (head of Google’s ranking algorithm) responds: (jump to minute 41)
Many people ask me what I think about running a startup in which the founder(s) are in Silicon Valley and the development team works from another city / country. This is what IndexTank did, and we were successful. The answer is easy: this setup helped us as much as doing hard drugs helps a rockstar. It’s a handicap, you can succeed in spite of it but I recommend avoiding it if you can. I defer to the words of Steve Jobs, when he was explaining the design of the Pixar building to encourage random meetings:
Despite being a denizen of the digital world, or maybe because he knew all too well its isolating potential, Jobs was a strong believer in face-to-face meetings. “There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by email and iChat,” he said. “That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow,’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”
Youtube is one of those websites I can’t live without. A few years ago it used to be hip to declare that you didn’t own a TV. I do own one but I rarely use it; I watch most of my movies / TV shows / music videos on my computer. Not owning a TV today simply means “I couldn’t care less for cable content or a big screen.” I would guess that at least two thirds of the video content I consume on a daily basis comes from Youtube.
Twitter is great if you are a celebrity. Jerry Seinfeld joined a few days ago and already has 180k followers. But what if you are a random person who joins Twitter today? What’s in it for you?