A Lot Can Happen In Five Years

There's a saying I heard recently from someone in the tech business that goes something like this:

Things take longer in the short run but they happen faster in the long run

I am sure I've bastardized the quote but the point is important. Nothing happens as fast as you'd like but if you have a longer term horizon, it is amazing what you can accomplish.

I was reminded of this today when I saw the news of our portfolio company Indeed's five year anniversary.

Indeed.com launched five years ago. I have no idea how many job searches or visitors it had that day, but I can assure you it wasn't many. Five years later, they are the leader in the jobs industry online. Check out these stats:

•The #1 employment website in the US by job search unique visitors and page views (comScore Media Metrix, Oct 2009).

•Websites in 19 countries and 10 languages.

•24 million unique visitors and one billion job searches per month worldwide.

•The leading pay-for-performance recruitment advertising network.

•The source of thousands of success stories from job seekers andrecruitment advertisers.

•A leading data provider, including Job Analytics, job trends, industry trends, job market competition, and salaries.

They did that in just five years. It's a pretty amazing accomplishment if you ask me. And they did it by keeping their heads down, focusing relentlessly on their product and users, and rolling out a better economic model for employers.

So when you are frustrated that you can't get your next release out of engineering, you can't recruit that person you really want, or that VCs just won't open their checkbooks and fund your deal, take a deep breath and relax. Nothing happens as fast as you want it to, but if you stay focused on the long term goal and keep building toward it, you can reach your goals and it won't take forever.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Mike McGrath

    I think that’s paraphrased from an old Bill Gates quote about people overestimating what can happen in a year, and underestimating what can happen in 10.

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. That’s right

      1. NicolasVDB

        To be more precise, Gates said we over-estimate how things will develop over 3 years and under-estimate over 10 years. He said that in 1997, Microsoft and Koday had invested a lot in Digital Photography starting in 1995 and the market was not happening two years later. He used the analogy of multi-media PCs, which were slow to take off in the first 3 years yet became ubiquitous 10 years later.How right was he about digital photography!

  2. Louis Marascio

    IMO, this story is a glass-half-full view of the old entrepreneurial sayings such as, “Starting a business is about getting up when you get knocked down”, etc. I like this view better, personally, because it really is about striving for success over the long haul. Building a successful company is about taking your shots along the way while moving forward, but when put in terms of success it sounds so much more positive.

    1. fredwilson

      I’m very much a glass half full kind of person

      1. Mark Essel

        I get jazzed up just thinking about all the fun things you can do with the glass.

      2. David Semeria

        The awesome http://twitter.com/asmartbear recently tweeted Everyone says “have passion to succeed,” but you also need competence. Passion is not sufficient, sorry.What a bummer! I so totally didn’t get *that* memo before I started…

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Reminds me of something I blogged about a few months back, “Talent: Not everyone has it”.But it also reminds me of something I remember Henry Rollins saying years ago, something along these lines: “I’m not that talented, so I just get up an hour earlier”.

          1. ShanaC

            I don’t think of myself as talented. I come here to comment as a form of learning-work. Can’t stop doing that ever. if you stop you fall behind. Your brain deteriorates in weird ways. Continuing learning even helps wards off dementia in old age. Staying on top of your learning is Good For You!Oddly I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who was taking finance classes through both the econ department and GSB/Booth, and for some reason I was able to better explain most of the material that we were doing (History of Business) than she was. She was the econ major. That sort of scared me. I blamed the commenting. Now just need to get on the math side. Because it really bothered me that I understood her material better than she did, even though I learned the majority of it informally.*devil horns* State of education….

          2. David Semeria

            Good stuff, Dave.It just means that some measure of talent is often a necessary, but not sufficient, requirement for success.Perhaps the Bear has been reading your blog. Or, more likely, perhaps it’s just the truth!

          3. Dave Pinsen

            Thanks, David.

          4. awaldstein

            Dogged determination translates into patience. A Must Have.

          5. brooksjordan

            It’s funny how that works . . . but so true.

          6. JLM

            I worship luck.I find that the earlier I get up, the luckier I am.Come to work early, stay late, work hard, read about your profession/industry an hour a day, meet someone you want to know or admire once a week, spend lunch w/ a subordinate once a week, review your own personal objectives monthly, manage by objectives, conduct a quarterly “down to the rivets” review every quarter, produce timely financial statements and commentary monthly, have an annual/2year/3year budget at all times and update it quarterly, have a strategic plan and know what can kill you, always ask for more money than you can conceive spending, celebrate success, understand failure and be nice to everyone.

  3. bombtune

    “If you put the work in the results will come.” Michael Jordan said this.

  4. Niyi

    Well done Indeed. I read somewhere that they bootstrapped and sold their last business (Jobsinthemoney) to Financial News. It shows that the Founders have great focus and an ability to execute.I sense however that a large proportion on Indeed’s coverage is US specific. It’ll be good to see them expand and grow the business internationally. There is huge niche to fill.

    1. fredwilson

      Yes. International is very much front and center in their minds

      1. ShanaC

        Really? Now you have me thinking…Have they thought about doing a campaign with colleges, since a good chunk of schools want their students out of the country? Also since college search boards are terrible. Like horrendous. I’ll show you mine when I get back to New York, and you’ll see why I avoid it.Edit: Plus college students are generally free or cheap labor. For some reason, please don’t like paying people like me, including up to one year out of school. So they could totally run an international campaign on getting interns out of the country, which some schools, especially cushy ones which still have the funding, would love. I would totally approach mine to do it (especially if I could go for three months, why not?)Second Edit: This is even truer if the country is China, I know you don’t like working with business there, but I know they are pushing students who are interesting in “traditional” business experiences to go to Asia…SO if that can get done…Hmmm

  5. jackabraham

    I think the hardest part is figuring out what to focus on and staying focused on it. If you do you can get a lot done in 5 years. If you don’t you end up spinning your wheels a lot.

    1. fredwilson

      Exactly. And indeed’s a good example of that. They didn’t bite off very much. Just enough it seems

  6. MikeSchinkel

    I can paraphrase that in 2 words:”Patience, Grasshopper.”:-)

    1. fredwilson

      That’s great. I love it

    2. Mark Essel

      Hehehe, the legend continuessome tricky philosophical points though.Patience without action and planning is pointless (aka noninvolvement)action without planning is reflexive or desparate (blindly swinging)planning without action is the trap of second guessingPlanning, action and patience are the triumverate

      1. pangaro

        planning, action, and patience are a nice set, much is implied by each. what needs to be called out? is “action” enough? see also http://pangaro.com/figures/

        1. Mark Essel

          That’s a neat analogous systematic description. Groovy stuff Pangaro. Reminds me of some of my early digital designs back in undergrad. The comparator was an opamp setup. We had a feedback channel to help adjust the system.More recently the tracking systems I’ve worked on have both measures to compare estimates of state with truth (residual rss of states normalized by the covariance), and internal systematic comparisons (is our system model adequate to describe the measurements, chi-squared interacting multiple models).

          1. pangaro

            it’s all the same organizational relationships, quite right. the power of “formal models” is the clarity and prescription they bring to complex systems. this stuff applies very well to social systems also, per http://pangaro.com/littlegr… and http://pangaro.com/ashby/

          2. Mark Essel

            Started looking at the little grey book. So far I gotta give this work the thumbs up. The minimalistic description of terms helps develop and describe the problem of evolving (autopoietic) and adapting organizations in a fascinating way.Thanks for the share!

  7. Ed Freyfogle

    I’ve seen this defined as “Macromyopia”. Unbelievably there’s no wikipedia article, but in general humans tend to overestimate things in the short-term, underestimate them in the long-term.As someone else who’s in the vertical search space, congrats to the Indeed team.

    1. fredwilson

      What sector of vertical search are you in?

  8. joshuakarp

    Wonderful, Fred… thank you for reminding us of that and for the story about Indeed. I recall listening to Michael Dell one time years and years ago, and he said that the most important characteristic for entrepreneurs is patience.

    1. fredwilson

      And its in short supply by definition!

    2. Elie Seidman

      or more specifically, the patience to work your a** off day in day out for years. It’s a different kind of patience than what most people think of. As an entrepreneur it’s undifferentiated to want to be successful – the differentiation is being willing to work insanely hard forever. I just read iCon – a biography of Steve Jobs and what was most fascinating to me was not how talented he is – that’s basically a given – but rather how long it took. He was booted out of Apple in 85 and sold Next to Apple in 97 and Pixar had its first success around the same time – also after more than a decade of extensive financial bleeding. And then once he was at back at Apple, the stock did not go on its tear until 2004 – 7 years after he returned.

  9. Jose HC

    Great on a Saturday morning! Getting a boost of caffeine with my coffee… and getting an entrepreneurial boost with Fred! I actually use Indeed up here in Canada and find them very useful indeed!

    1. fredwilson

      That’s great to hear about canada. Int’l is a top priority for indeed

  10. John Allspaw

    Someone told me, upon becoming a parent, “the days are long, but the years are short”Congrats to Indeed.

    1. fredwilson

      Man that is so true. I’ve got a daughter in college john and I can remember changing her diapers like it was yesterdayThere’s a lot in common between startups and parenting

      1. Richard Kain

        To start a possibly incendiary sub-thread, is being a parent an advantage as a consequence? The pros are hopefully demonstrable success showing patience and cultivation of a pretty capital- and time- intensive project! You presumably have greater certitude to risk your earnings’ stream on a new venture.The downside is of course that the company is not, in fact, your baby; there is a more pressing claim on an entrepreneur’s time. I have three young kids and that pretty much means weekend days are for them, not any business I’m involved in; I give second thoughts to travel, schooldays means work starts later. Only after bedtime (like just now), do I check email, do any work (if reading blogs counts!), off to the one regular weekly dinner alone with my wife shortly. I know there are single entrepreneurs who would work straight through this.Is there a different (lower?) risk-reward profile you see in dealflow from parents?Anecdotally, for good or bad, among people I’ve seen describe themselves as “serial entrepreneurs” they are almost never parents.

  11. Erick Mott

    Patience is a virtue, something many entrepreneurs are short of — especially in the Web 2.0 world. Congrats to you and the extended team!

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Many entrepreneurs are also short of “slow capital”, to borrow Fred’s term. Patience is a challenge when you’re bootstrapping it and don’t have OPM to tide you through for a while.

      1. Erick Mott

        Yes, agree. I lived that pressure first hand — little capital (bootstrapping) meant little time to deliver and produce results. These factors should all be considered in the business plan including an exit strategy (timetable, too).

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Dealing with some of that now, Erick. I took a look at your site — very impressive background you have.

  12. Emeri Gent [Em]

    This is sweet. Tried out Indeed and indeed it is the google of recruitment media or at least the mother of job postings. What’s sweet is that this particular posting can act as a personal marker – so 5 years hence being 2015, it will be interesting for me to look back at this and reflect whether I fulfilled my own promise to perform or whether I simply planted a platitude.It is interesting that 5 years is considered long-term now but with the kind of external statistical insight available today coupled with internal visionary outlook – I think 1 year is indeed short-term, 3 years is indeed mid-term and 5 years is indeed a long-term outlook in digital terms.A lot can happen in five years if we learn how to accelerate with technological mojo but a lot will happen in five years when one’s calling in life is a magnet for others to build something special together.What I have reviewed of Indeed, they have indeed found their mojo. If I am to find my own mojo, I must heed my own life calling and simply get my head down to convert these paragraphs into profitgraphs . . .and invest in a personal action requirement that demands from me now, some productive and “intelligent silence”.[Em]

    1. Mark Essel

      Howdy Emeri,Intelligent silence is a great way to describe the mover or productive time of my day. Only interrupted by my muffled curses when things go awry (that’s the engineers form of prayer).What market areas are you looking to develop a business in? Digital information and social game apps are growing fast.In my morning post I found a reference that said Farmville had over 56 million players at thr end of October. Over thanksgiving I played for the first time after getting talked into by some of my fiancés younger fam.Talk about wild fire growth!

      1. Emeri Gent [Em]

        Mark, I dig Larry Page’s response in 2006 Time article called “Meet the Google Guys” :”We don’t generally talk about our strategy … because it’s strategic. I would rather have people think we’re confused than let our competitors know what we’re going to do.”For me intelligent silence works best as long-term perspective. In the short-term one can take a time out, go for a walk, clear the head but long-term for me is a 20 year vision that factors in where one is on their own life line and health pathway. Opportunity is always passing by and the decision to get on the bus is what my intelligent silence will ponder. Since I am now 48, whatever life path I take now will be something I will be reflecting back on when I am 70. Sometimes we don’t know what to do and in those cases silence merely prolongs the agony of making a decision, but sometimes the cards are on the table and you have to pick one.I don’t want to be mediafied, where one’s projections into the digital ether become mythical counterpoints, I simply go with my instinct and recognize that first I must be clear about cause and effect – that is why I keep on stating that mine is a personal journey online and not a public examination.I think about all the billionaire’s out there and most of them are invisible forces, so I am not enamored by big numbers or become beholden to projecting a successful aura. It really gets down to figuring out who the billionaire was when they were a “dollaraire” or even “borrowedaire”. The start line is much more fun when I am not trying to become something I am not and remaining firmly who I am. You introduced me to Kevin Kelly this week and he is a very visible force, probably way more interesting than the average billionaire but the same process applies, breaking down how Kevin Kelly came to amass the level of incredible thinking he has reached. That is why I have become interested in Rene Descartes, because what I read about him is this ability to break things down to their simplest level. More importantly I also read that Descartes had his own moment of intelligent silence, and spent many years preparing that led to achieving the kind of breakthrough that has been left indelible in history. The footprints of history are not ours to make but the footprint of the present moment is the circumference mathematics of our own chosen vision. (Descartes as I presently read him, advocates not to rely on sense-making).I can produce paragraph after paragraph, but for paragraphs to turn into profitgraphs, it requires a little bit of Descartes, a little bit of Kelly but a wad lot of trusting the process (for the word billionaire equates with an end result, not a life that is being shaped). Even a human child takes 9 months to form, so a month unfolding one’s own future seems minimal in comparison. I will talk to you one-to-one Mark when I have something to talk about. Why I am here is because there is energy in this particular space I can grab and take home with me. Mark, I must temporarily stop writing all this now, for it is all so easy for me to ream out this stuff, when I currently need to simply shut up and work out the mathematics of what it is I really need to do :-)[Em]

        1. ShanaC

          🙂 Something I was told in school, read everything like a double edge sword, and people take time to develop.Also I really have to figure why I keep my most important parts of me locked away. This post reminds me of that fact. Also joy of being young. You sound Young at heart.

          1. Emeri Gent [Em]

            The problem of saying “stop” is when one keeps inching forward and Shana having said that my 42nd comment on Disqus is my lot for this year, I cannot help but respond to you on the theme of young at heart.Check out Steve Jurvetson’s view on this five years ago:http://jurvetson.blogspot.c…five years later he is here (focus on the thought state not the content) :http://www.dfj.com/news/art…It is my pragmatic purpose which must remain ever youthful. The beauty of the web is we can extrapolate via time frame so here I wonder what i will be writing online or my own thought state five years from now.Youth IMHO is a euphemism is for “energy”. I do try to steer away from energy killers whether it is petty politics or failure to confront my own self-limiting beliefs or negative or dark alleys. Whenever I pursue and shape pragmatic purpose to energy creation, I automatically add to my energy source, therefore my evergreen youthful mindset.[Em]

        2. Mark Essel

          Well said Emeri. Go forth into your intelligence silence, I’ll catch up with you on the other side.

          1. Emeri Gent [Em]

            DittoADDENDUM to Ditto:I actually thought that I could write a one-word response, but then David responded and I guess a 45th Disqus comment won’t go amiss. Though of course now I am editing this response, the superb punctuation effect of “ditto” is irrevocably lost but I gained something because now I can see the connection with Spinoza and that is something that adds value to my own discovery purpose.[Em]

        3. Dave Pinsen

          Descartes also curried favor with the establishment, as exemplified by the dedication he wrote prefacing his Meditations. The professor who taught the class I took on 17th century rationalists argued that Spinoza — not Descartes — was the first modern philosopher. Unlike Descartes, Spinoza started his Ethics with a blank page, as it were, following his method where his logic took him, not trying to fit it within the confines of the reigning religious orthodoxy.

          1. Emeri Gent [Em]

            First of all I would like to NLP my 45th Disqus comment to the word “Colt 45” – which is simply a reminder that I am shooting my own self in the foot, but Dave, your interjection was valuable to me.I looked at Spinoza here (since I am newly acquainted to these philosophical masters):http://www.philosophypages.com/ph/spin.htmhttp://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spinoza/What this told me was that Descartes came from well-to-do environment and while Spinoza came from a middle class background his path paved with more difficulties, but the mere fact that Spinoza built on Descartes work means that I must pay attention to Spinoza’s view. Whatever sycophantic nature of nobility may be with the Roman Catholic church at the time, if an ethical based man like Baruch Spinoza see’s fit to evaluate Descartes work, then I as a mere modality of a mindful man, should treat Spinoza’s choice of study as an endorsement. I do like your proposition of Spinoza beginning his ethics from a blank page (as it were) but we are also living in an age of multiple blank pages, a canvas of creativity that only we can enlighten. I am also mindful that the earlier Renaissance period was enabled by benefactors, and the way that media is going today, the rise of 21st Century benefactors is the price we way for a new renaissance, we still need the rich to finance arts and creativity as a new appreciation of human craft accelerates. The study of Descartes and Spinoza will serve to improve my own values, smarten my character, shape my ethics and also learning from the development of my own virtues. (Let me also note that one of the most viscous environments to work in is academia itself – so I do not approach this study as an academic but for practical wisdom). I welcome your introduction of Spinoza and I can immediately see the value of studying him for my own journey. Thank You Dave.[Em]GoAL #20http://alwayson.goingon.com…

          2. ShanaC

            Interesting argument on Spinoza. I avoid reading him directly. I’m afraid he’ll remind me of myself.Interestingly, had he been later, or in Yemen, he would have been fine. He wouldn’t have been thrown out for propagating radical views on Maimonides, which I believe was the original problem. He also had some bands on him…The more you interact, the more you get banned, it seems…

  13. Mark Essel

    In five years you can get: a degreea title and salary bump at a joba self made human hair doll (crafty but creepy)Or you can build a wildly successful business.You know what I’m betting on (not the hair doll).

    1. Dave Pinsen

      What sort of business are you working on building, Mark?

      1. Mark Essel

        I’m working on personal search tools and connecting people that talk in the same space but may not know of eachother. My dream is helping to build the ultimate personal assistant software that will help folks save time online. The flip side of this is building a dynamic database of categories/tags and weights for each user, and allowing site hosts to show relevant ads customized to each user (with a potential spin based on the host).The tech meisto is Tyler Gillies, I’m his heavy handed henchmen technically (painfully slow learning curve in creating rails environments in Linux & Windows).Business wise I’m avidly searching for what potential users value and help navigate our tools to fulfilling that need.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Sounds interesting (and ambitious). Who is this Tyler fellow? And do you have a beta version of this up yet?

          1. Mark Essel

            Tyler’s about the smartest web programmer and tech maniac I’ve met in some time. We had a vulcan mind meld on Google Wave when we were both editing one at the same time, and our conversation turned towards the ideas I was dreaming up for virtual assistants, search and personalized ads.You can check out (most testing done in Chrome, and big lists can run into problems atm) the Intelligent Media Manager or read more about it on our official site Victus Media. Make sure to check out the lists option, it’s a great way to scan what a group of folks are talking about. We’re in a state of rapid flux. **Proceed with caution: Detailed techno babble Below**Where we’re at: many open tickets for development, feedback channels from users (user voice), Git hub for the software sharing (my dinosaur method of email has gone the way of the dodo bird), and a big push towards interfacing with Facebook, the borg of the social net. Tyler loves MongoDB (thanks for the heads up from Fred). One of the challenges of leveraging semantic categorization is the short length of status updates. Luckily many are accompanied by rich links of information, so once we go one link deep we should be able to get a much better picture of what users are interested in. Zemanta works much better on longer formats as well. We’ve been doing some tests with AlchemyAPI from Orchestr8 for statuses, but I don’t like the current tags that are coming back, they’re pretty noisy (residual syntax like RT is coming through and like links aren’t getting grouped together properly yet).

          2. Dave Pinsen

            Thanks for the info, I’ll take a look at those links.

    2. fredwilson

      i’m betting on it too Mark

  14. Dale Larson

    I think the other implications of the Bill Gates quote are even more interesting for startups. “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”So we do need patience in the sense of perseverance, but early-stage, we also need to be careful not to build products that the market won’t be ready for in a reasonable amount of runway (it always takes longer than we think for the market to catchup). Conversely, as a more mature company, we need to be less conservative in order not to be left behind by change that seems far-fetched but is actually likely.

    1. fredwilson

      yup. being “way too early” as howard morgan calls it is not good either

      1. Dale Larson

        So from what you’ve seen across so many startups, what helps entrepreneurs keep from being way too early while avoiding underestimating the bigger long-term change?

        1. fredwilson

          i think it is critical to focus on something specific and achievable and goget that done. and that something should be related to usage of the productthat you create. a much overused word is “traction” but it does capture theessence of what every entrepreneur must focus on.

          1. Mark Essel

            Great question from Dale, and solid response Fred.Our identitiy in the business space is a product of our early specific focus. In effect what we don’t do (silence) is just as important as what we pursue (tones).

          2. ShanaC

            They often say music is made as much by the silence as it is by the tones.

  15. Dave Pinsen

    Congrats on Indeed, Fred. I remember first reading about it in the WSJ years ago, before I had heard of you. Definitely a useful product from a job seeker’s perspective.

    1. Mark Essel

      Fred has to be careful, he’ll soon be known as the golden goose VC.For the supersticious among us having “the magic touch” of Union Squares investment capital, could be fiercely fought after :).

      1. Dave Pinsen

        My guess (based on my admittedly limited experience with this) is that most start-ups seeking venture capital are happy to get it anywhere, and probably only a relative handful have the luxury of being choosy about it. In the one place I worked where we sought VC money, I don’t recall any conversations about how a particular firm would be great to have as a VC because they would bring certain non-monetary resources to bear. Could be though that this was because that start-up was in such a narrow niche that few VCs had relevant experience with it.Fortunately though, going hat-in-hand to VCs is a thing of the past for that company, as it is now profitable, growing organically, and on the Inc. 5000 list.

        1. Mark Essel

          I guess I’m a little old fashioned when it comes to deals. I really care about who I would consider doing business with. I want a lot more out of any partners than a blank check (that’s crazy talk to most startups). But to me, getting funded is meaningless unless I have discovered a real value path.There’s plenty of space between a project in the works, and a real business where users/customers are eating up the services. External funding only makes sense when it helps you exploit a known opening fast, and a business opportunity can offer short term liquidity to investors (5-7 years). For larger businesses that haven’t made big revenue yet it makes sense to fund raise when you’re a publicity star and you will need the capital for growth before revenue catches up (twitter).

  16. aanwar

    Very true.

  17. pinklaptop02

    Takes a lot of undying faith in your vision to make things happen. They are a true success story of hard work and diligence.#1 Job Search Method

  18. Scott Scheper

    Too bad Charlie Weis couldn’t turn around ND in 5 years…

    1. fredwilson

      i think turnarounds are way harder than startups

      1. Elie Seidman

        I would guess they are way way harder. Startups are totally unencumbered by history. Look at AOL right now – before Armstrong can turn it around, he has to undo years of history while simultaneously bringing back organizational urgency and passion that startups – by virtue of the concentration of financial and emotional ownership in the office doing the work – have in abundance. A psychology of losing is incredibly hard to fix. All the while, his competitors like Nick Denton don’t face those broken issues in the first place. They don’t have to undo before they fix – they just keep innovating.

  19. ShanaC

    First off, Happy Birthday Indeed!Interestingly, it’s starting to go through its lifecycle. As the college student person, the longer I use it, the more overwhelmed I get, because the better it gets. I wish I knew how to filter it down. (Topo many choices is a bad thing:)It was a really a breakthrough though when it first came out. I was told my my college career advisement that it would be a better place that their own local listenings for art related internships if I wanted to go out of state, back home (that still sort of scares me, that you beat them, from Chicago to NY?) two years ago. That still remains true.Now I just wish I knew how to use the search engine more effectively. Saying Intern Chicago UX is really not helpful, let me tell you, and is a total turn off. A year ago is was. What a difference.(and the five year thing is so true, I’m nothing like the person I started college as, I expect to be totally different 5 years from now, I know a couple of people who took bets on this even)

  20. glen_NIXTY

    Great reminder. When you are in the midst of it, it is very challenging to keep this in mind. Thanks for the timely reminder.

  21. J. Andrew Rogers

    “Things take longer in the short run but they happen faster in the long run”Fred, this is a variant of the oft-paraphrased Amara’s Law: “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”

    1. fredwilson

      yes, that could be itbut it could also be the Gates quote mentioned early on in this thread

  22. dennisgorelik

    Fred, why did you decide to invest into indeed.com five years ago?

  23. Simeon Simeonov

    Fred, perseverance is a good strategy for success but isn’t it also a great strategy for slow, expensive failure? The judgment can often only be made in hindsight.In my VC days, I tried to find a data set that one could use to look at this over time and without the winners’ bias. I wasn’t able to. Do you know of one?

  24. Steven Kane

    A wise person advised me to have “ruthless patience.”

  25. awaldstein

    No question. You can laud patience as the virtue that manages and directs passion but without passion and without a vision, you have bubkes (aka Nothing). Turnarounds are usually depleted of both and its hard to kindle those once they are gone.

  26. Elie Seidman

    The list of “overnight successes” that took five (or more) years is long – the list of those that took a year or two is extraordinarily short. In entrepreneurship, the game is over when you stop playing and persistence is one of the most extraordinarily important skills there is. I’ve found that while what you say is easy to see and realize in the intellectual abstract, it’s far harder in the entrepreneurial trenches where every small thing takes on added importance as a result of being seen through the lenses of urgency and passion. On the hardest days I remind myself of the Chinese proverb: “When you are ready to quit, you’re closer than you think”. These things tend to be incredibly backloaded. You invest and invest and invest and see very little but all the while you are putting energy into getting over the “activation energy hump” (to borrow a chemistry concept) and getting the flywheel spinning. At year five, the flywheel has a lot of energy stored up and the company – if it’s been doing the right things for a long time – is gaining traction at a rate that is massively faster than it was during its early days. But year five exists on the shoulders of years one and two – the results were going to be there as sure the sun will come up tomorrow, but time was that critical variable. It’s why I think it’s so critical to be very careful about measuring only early indicators and really trying to avoid spending much time on the trailing indicators. By the way, when the Indeed team got started, how many people predicted that the online jobs market – with dominant players like Monster – could not possibly need a new entrant. The role of the established player is to retain the status quo – changes are risky for them. And that’s particularly true if the established player is a company where executives versus owners run the company. For them, the downside is losing their job – the upside is typically retaining most of their already valuable options and salaried comp. There are large established companies that find a way to stay energized but the intrinsic incentives are what they are and are very hard to overcome. And so it happens. Not in a day or in a week but in five years – which in the lens of history is a blip – the strong become the weak and the young become the strong. The trick of entrepreneurial vision is to see the future before it happens and then, with dogged determination, put your head down and get there first. If you are successful, everyone will wonder how it happened so fast while you bask in your persistence – having worked so hard for so long.

  27. Andrew Warner

    Could you add more depth to this: “they did it by keeping their heads down, focusing relentlessly on their product and users”?Got any examples?

  28. joey horvitz

    Thank you for the post…

  29. David Stafford

    > Things take longer in the short run but they happen faster in the long runAbsolutely true but the pace of change in any instance is terribly difficult to predict. If a young Alexander Bell came to me with his newfangled “telegraph killer” I’d like to imagine that I would have had the foresight to appreciate his invention. Still, it took two lifetimes:1876 – Alexander Bell applies for the patent “Improvements in Telegraphy.”2006 – Western Union sends its last telegram.Hofstadter’s Law: Everything takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law. — Douglas Hofstadter

  30. sciguy77

    Well said. Someone said something like “You can make blogging a business, but it’ll take 5 years.” Interesting parallel.

  31. John P

    Thanks again Fred – inspirational.I think the quote may be a bastardization of a famous – and interesting – remark by Arthur C Clarke to the effect that “we overestimate the impact of a new technology in the short term, but underestimate it in the long”Regards

  32. Colin Devroe

    In my experience patience always pays dividends. I could probably pull a really long yarn on this topic but I will leave with just this one thought; doing something quickly has very rarely returned anything of quality – if you focus on doing good things it won’t matter how fast you do them.

  33. Shannon M Davis

    Just the post I needed to read as I raise $250K, thanks Fred…Indeed is a great role model.

  34. sachmo

    Thanks, inspirational.