How To Be In Business Forever: Week Three

It is week three of my Skillshare class on Sustainability in Business.

I will be doing office hours today at 6pm eastern. You can watch them here on this link. If you want to submit questions for office hours, you can do that here. Just like last week, I will review a few business model canvas projects and then will answer questions for the rest of the office hours.

This week I'd like to talk about company culture and how it impacts sustainability. If you want to be in business forever, you need to build a culture that sustains the business. I talked a lot about this in a post on culture a while back. You should give that a read as part of the assigned reading for this course. Here is the money quote from that post:

Companies are not people. But they are comprised of people. And the people side of the business is harder and way more complicated than building a product is. You have to start with culture, values, and a committment to creating a fantastic workplace. You can't fake these things. They have to come from the top. They are not bullshit. They are everything. There will be things that happen in the course of building a business that will challenge the belief in the leadership and the future of the company. If everyone is a mercenary and there is no shared culture and values, the team will blow apart. But if there is a meaningful culture that the entire team buys into, the team will stick together, double down, and get through those challenging situations.

I bumped into a friend last week who works at a company that is going through a difficult time right now. I asked him about the "talent drain" that is going on in his company. He said "the ones who were in it for only the money are long gone, the doubters are gone now too, and we are left with the true believers now."

I thought to myself that the mistake the CEO of that company made was bringing the mercenaries and doubters into the company in the first place and allowing them to stay.

Mercenaries have no place in your company and your culture. Doubters are a bit different. You certainly don't want to create a culture of "yes maam" in your company. So some doubting is healthy. But it should be out in the open. The doubts should be expressed upfront and they should be discussed and debated. But once the decisions have been made, everyone needs to get behind them. Ongoing doubting is not helpful to a culture.

True believers are required to get through the hard parts. And you need to be the leader who inspires the true believers. Watch this short video where @dens described what he did when Facebook launched a competing product to Foursquare.

You get true believers in your company by giving them something to believe in and someone to believe in. That is you. Even if you are scared shitless or bummed out, you can't show that to the team. You have to lead if you want the team to follow.

The thing that you give them to believe in is called a vision. Make it a long one, a very long one. I like Bill Gates' vision for Microsoft:

When Paul Allen and I started Microsoft over 30 years ago, we had big dreams about software,” recalls Gates. β€œWe had dreams about the impact it could have. We talked about a computer on every desk and in every home.

A computer on every desk and in every home. That was a big hairy audacious goal in the late 70s. And it is exactly what happened, at least in the developed world.

The cool thing about that vision is it is drop dead simple to understand but took decades to execute. That's a long vision that your team can buy into and stick with for the long haul. That's what you need.

So if you want to build a business that lasts, you need a big and long vision and you need to be a leader who can inspire the team to believe in the vision and to believe in you. You need to hire folks who will stick around for the long haul and you need to be open to the doubts and doubters. But if they keep doubting, you need to part company with them. Don't hire mercanaries. They won't work no matter how hard you try.

Building a culture that can sustain the business is the most important investment you can make in your company. Once you've gotten a product into the market and proven product market fit, there is nothing that is more important than team, culture, and values. It is the glue that holds the whole thing together for the long haul.

#MBA Mondays

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Early culture is 100% a function of the founder as leader.Can’t be overestimated. I would bet that in companies that succeed that leadership is as important as the product vision in many instances. Products and vision shifts. Leadership as culture is there every work day.

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. Very true

    2. Drew Meyers

      Totally agreed, which means I’ve got my work cut out for me πŸ™‚

  2. jason wright

    How does vesting fit with mercenaries and doubters?

    1. fredwilson

      If they stick around they vest. Its pernicious in a way

  3. Rohan

    The problem for Microsoft is that they did brilliant while they were working on that vision.And then stagnated after they achieved it..Maybe somewhere we should tackle changing a vision (if, improbable as it may seem initially – is achieved!)

    1. fredwilson

      That is a very insightful observation and a great suggestion Rohan

    2. takingpitches

      So true.There is something about companies achieving bold visions in spectacular ways – Microsoft, Google, Facebook – and their actions subsequent to that garnering criticism relative to the applause that came before.Some of this is “hating” but there perhaps is something deeper going on as well – maybe the pressure to grow by doing things that are inconsistent with the culture and vision that supported the initial bold innovation.

    3. John Best

      Good point. What do you do when a dream has become an objective you’ve already achieved?

      1. Rohan

        Change focus to the next one.Easier to that on an individual level than an organization level right? Especially one that’s bloated to unrecognizable proportions!

      2. Ben Tallman

        I remember a great Onion issue about Dell becoming number one, reaching it’s goal, and shutting down!…Always made me smile, but interestingly, MS has reached it’s original vision. There is a PC in every home and business. At least in the US.

    4. Tom Labus

      They have been doing this the last three years but without much market (stock) response but eventually will be noticed.Ballmer’s note to shareholders last week confirmed the move from a pure software co to “devices”.

    5. awaldstein

      Microsoft understood brick and mortar distribution better than anyone. That was their DNA.They never understood the internet. And even after they understood it it still wasn’t, and isn’t, who they are.And they, like Google, have not an inkling of understanding of the mass market.

    6. JamesHRH

      How close is MS to being a dominant player in software? What is the window for them?With their cash-flow, the answer is “very” and “nearly forever”.If either of Paul Allen or Nathan Myrhvold had stuck around longer, they may, very well, have bought GOOG & FB.As it was, the DOJ still got in their kitchen.

  4. JimHirshfield

    Doubters aren’t easily seen. And those just in it for the money are blind.

    1. William Mougayar

      Very true. The. Money comes later after success, not before. You have to give blood first.

    2. Anne Libby

      There’s a difference between people who sow negative doubt (dissidents?) and people who will show you the holes in your thinking (truth-tellers.)Truth tellers can look like doubters. And can be tough to manage. They can be good to have around — if you can figure out how to hear them, mediate their impact on others, and enlist them when it comes time to act…

      1. JimHirshfield

        Good point.

      2. Andrew Bradford

        If you’re a truth teller, how do you differentiate yourself from a doubter when you tell truth? How can truth tellers not appear as doubters?For those who want to tell truth, the potential of looking like a doubter might stop them. Is that good or bad?

        1. Anne Libby

          Andrew, tough question! it depends on your organization’s culture. Here are a couple of general thoughts. You need the support of sponsors — people who can influence outcomes through their action. Better, multiple sponsors. Otherwise, an organization’s immune response can reject you, and reject what you’re trying to express. It boils down to your ability to manage a network of relationships with sponsors, and people who see you as an undisputed supporter of the greater goals. You can call that politics. Or you can call it an ability to manage relationship capital, a hallmark of emotional intelligence. The organization also needs to want to hear the truth and act on it. (Think Enron and Sherron Watkins.) The organization needs to be set up in a way that enables them to hear the truth. (See Colleen Rowley.) If you feel that you lack the cultural understanding, network, relationship capital to act effectively — or if you’re in a Sherron Watkins/Coleen Rowley situation — find a mentor. Someone with relevant knowledge and experience who can help you to navigate the situation. This could be a great learning experience if you’re new to an organization, and just haven’t learned how the culture operates. That said, sometimes the truth we see is critically important. Sometimes we just disagree with the boss.

        2. ShanaC

          because doubt is truth without kindness.

  5. Adrian Bye

    i guess you almost want to build a cult

    1. fredwilson

      Cults don’t tolerate doubts

      1. Ben Tallman

        My cults do! πŸ™‚

  6. William Mougayar

    Great post & a very motivational one. Β “Cut it out” was my favorite quote from that video.Β When you’re a small startup, the only person to worry about the competition is the CEO. It isn’t what employee should worry about.Β 

    1. fredwilson

      I like when he admitted he was half scared shitless

      1. William Mougayar

        Yup, and he most probably didn’t even show it.

        1. markslater

          we go in fits and spurts – we usually have the odd hour when the competition dominates the discussion – then one of us will jump up and say “stop….enough……..we should not care if we believe in what we are doing……..”

          1. William Mougayar


    2. Anne Libby

      All press is not good press…

  7. John Best

    Of the 3 sustainability posts this one has grabbed me the most. I think the interview with Dennis Crowley really drove the point home for me. Without his “true believers” I imagine he’d have haemorrhaged staff pretty quickly after the announcement, either directly to Facebook Places, or to other mercenary opportunities.Without that vision, then Foursquare could have caved. I’d also contend that as important is the *communication* of that vision, that’s what engenders belief. Again, we see it’s the story that grabs people.

  8. Tom Labus

    Culture has to come from the top and be real or people will know it’s BS in a heartbeat.

  9. brian trautschold

    that clip is great.. very valuable & inspiringhow overwhelming… multiple huge players basically targeting your business immediately once you gain market acceptance. foursquare has done an awesome job of innovating, being reliable, and growing multiple segments at running full speed – pretty amazing.

  10. panterosa,

    Sounds like your thesis on this is a blend of two Gandhi quotes.A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history.You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

    1. fredwilson

      both of those are great

  11. Elie Seidman

    Fred – I’m in 1000% agreement about taking a long term view – over a 10 year period how will we change this problem people face. In our category, I’ve seen so many companies take a “i have to win fast with this “hot” new approach or I’m done” approach . They hired accordingly. The strategized accordingly. Their patience and persistence was derivative. As far as I can tell, without exception those folks consistently run into problems. Particularly on the product side where the product chases wealth primarily. But now the question – the venture industry average stats show that a small set of companies generate a large percentage of the returns. And my experience has been that a large percentage of investors believe that companies that have not “popped” fast will not ultimately be in the subset of companies that deliver those overweighted percentage returns. From what I’ve read, you’ve had companies that pop really fast (Zynga, Twiter, etc.) and companies that have been more of the Jim Collins variety – growing consistently year in and year out for very long periods of time. (the amazing effect of compounding anything). Given the time component of investing, how should VC/PE firms and long term focused entrepreneurs sync on this issue? Not all the companies in your portfolio pop or are likely to. Some will end up being products that have a real impact for society even if they don’t make the headlines for being homerun investments. What is your personal approach to this and what guidance do you offer the entrepreneurs in your portfolio who are not managing the companies that have popped?

    1. fredwilson

      first of all we work to help all of our companies equally. we don’t pick winners. but the market does. and when i say the market, i mean customers, users, etc.when a company gets to the point that they look like the market might have chosen them, we push the team hard to build for the long haul and try to create an enduring company.

    2. PhilipSugar

      I think the beauty in Fred’s posts are that they transcend purely VC funded companies. This reminded me of what happened when I hired mercenaries at a non-VC funded company.As for your last paragraph, from what I’ve seen Fred tends to take a much more graceful approach for those companies that have failed the VC mission, but still can be successful. That’s the challenge you and I have talked about forever, what happens if you have a VC backed company that is great but doesn’t “pop”.You know its hard to think about it as a failure when you’ve given your life and soul to a company, its supporting a great set of employees, and customers delivering value every day but you aren’t hitting the hockey stick. Now you’re faced with a hard decision. Make no doubt you have failed at the VC mission.You can “pivot”, “fail fast”, flail (that’s what happens when founding management gets thrown out for mercenary management, and a recap happens), or stick it out. The last one is actually the hardest.I am not discounting Fred’s personality whatsoever but its also easier to give this leniency when you have the luxury of success. There is nothing worse than being the “hope” of a fund when the reality is you are not. I could put in some analogies but won’t.

      1. fredwilson

        there is much truth to this entire comment

  12. markslater

    Wow there is so much to say about this.Answer some of these to yourself:When you think about checking in you think of?When you think about restaurant reservations, you think of?When you think about reviews, you think of?When you think about _________ you think of_____________There is one company – really only one that gets known for doing one thing really well in the mind of the consumer. No’s 2, 3, and 4 are not nameable.Create the vision, yes – but always have an eye for the simple and for the obvious and run as hard as you can to be known for that simple and obvious thing that works in peoples daily lives………then FB will copy you until the cows come home and will likely fail. They are known for something else, not what you do, and its immensely hard for them to take your flag.I hope for the day we have these guys after us – it means we’ve done something simple and obvious and that it works in peoples daily lives.

    1. LE

      I think the short way to say this would be “don’t be a clusterf**k”.But on the other hand GE has a fine model and so does Honda (they provide scooters, engines, lawn mowers, generators, power equipment all the way up to trucks). Can’t just say “Honda is about transportation”.Actually even though you may think of them as a car manufacturer, you would be surprised at what they offer:…One of the advantages of broadening your offerings that may outweigh the disadvantages (which you mention) is that it insulates and hedges you somewhat from swings in demand in the various products and services that you offer.Take dining for example. Used to be that sushi restaurants only offered sushi and chinese restaurants only offered chinese. But they now offer both at least the majority of the ones that I’ve dined at. While I am absolutely certain that in NYC or SF there are sushi restaurants that don’t offer chinese that is particular to a given geographic area and clientele. They can afford to be exclusive like that.The obvious problem in being known for one thing is what happens when that one thing is no longer in vogue (which is certainly going to happen in a fast growing market rather than at John Deere, right?) You will go out of business.”No’s 2, 3, and 4 are not nameable.”I think someone has to decide on whether they want to create a “business” and make a really good living or they want to run a 1 in a million business that is the talk of the web (and possibly not even making money). The 2,3,4 test doesn’t fly for 99.9% of the businesses that are started every day in the US and around the world. It is an artifact of the last 15 years as well as MBA and business programs in general. For every Bloomberg that is a billionaire because he cornered the market on a product/service there are 1000 guys worth 25 million or so that are pretty happy with what they have built.

      1. Ben Tallman

        Diversification is something that you get to do when you have succeeded. Diversification is what Facebook was doing when they moved into Foursquare’s space. Had Foursquare decided to “diversify” into Facebook’s space, that would have had a predictable outcome.Instead, Foursquare battened down the hatches and dug in! And while it was a bit touch and go for awhile, I find myself checking in with Foursquare now. But Facebook owns their category so solidly that they really didn’t risk much to step into the ring with Foursquare.That’s what’s scary about being in Foursquare’s shoes. It’s like being America and going to war in Asia or the Middle East. America may lose soldiers, thousands of them, but in general, the homes are safe. This being a NYC blog, there might be disagreement there, but even on 9/11, I think I’d argue that Manhattan was significan’t more secure than say Lebanon.In the world of startups and little guys, it can feel like the battle is in your neighborhood, but for the big guys, John Deere, Facebook, Walmart, it isn’t personal, it’s just business.While this can be terrifying, it can also mean that your team is “all in” in a way that the big guys just can’t get. That’s scary, but it makes for quite the team effort.

        1. markslater

          how did google do with check ins? yelp? they all tried.How did they all do with groupons? they all tried.fair enough – it may not be risky to try if you are the big man – but the message that should be taken from this for start-ups is exactly what dennis said – get back down in your hole and focus focus focus. chances are – the storm will pass.

          1. LE

            Why I point out what I point out is to be circumspect and is for the benefit of people who don’t have much business experience who will be taking this information and applying it in another situation. Then at least they know some of the issues to consider. And they can consider or not.While the focus of this blog is startups, I don’t feel the info is always qualified as being targeted toward a particular niche of businesses which actually are a very small part of the business world. Or some of the comments. This is not the same as saying what you or others have said is not true. It is true it just needs to be qualified. I’m just adding another perspective for the benefit of anyone reading.

          2. markslater

            sorry there LE i was actually responding to @twitter-18220984:disqus and used the wrong frame.

        2. LE

          At least part of the reason that US is safe is that it is protected on two sides by oceans and top and bottom by friendly countries.

      2. JamesHRH

        You took 5 times the words to give us the short way ;-)Mark is right – when I say A you think of B. THe reverse works too – if we are talking software and I say Office, people know exactly what you mean.

    2. JamesHRH

      Jack Trout & Al Ries are smiling.Bingo.

  13. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Great post. Great clip. This is my favorite so far in the sustainability posts.This is really really hard in the earliest stages, especially when you are NOT a technical founder. The need for technical talent is so intense, and it’s so tempting to take on anyone, anyone who can code.

    1. falicon

      I feel you here…but *definitely* agree you must fight the urge to take on someone just because they can code (or really just because they can do ‘insert required skill for business success here’)…because that’s a sure fire way to a slow death at best.Especially in a ‘from the ground up’ startup, you need a developer that buys into the mission, the idea, and the business…it’s the only way they’ll have a chance at designing systems and building software that is actually flexible and scaleable at all the right pain points…anything else will just end up being spec work that might ‘work’ at first, but will be *very* painful to evolve with the business…

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        So true. The reality, out here in non-coder land, is that many of us are having our ideas prototyped by off-shore developers. It’s a necessary “evil”. Sooner than later though, you *have* to get a tech person who’s as psyched about your project as you are. It’s the only way they’ll be as committed to being awesome as you are.You seem like a nice techie – wanna merge our startups? πŸ˜‰

        1. falicon

          If it makes you feel any better, as a techie on the other side I can say it’s just as challenging to find the right fit for all the various non-techie roles I need help with as well.BTW – I enjoyed your business model canvas last week…I think there is a wide and long tail of companies that need help with social media, so I def. see the potential there. I’m focused on getting conversation search installed on every blog on the internet, but I will def. remain an interested fan and supporter of the work you are doing! πŸ˜‰

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Thank you πŸ™‚ I love what you’re working on – let me know how I can help get the word out. You’ll have to let me buy you a beer when I get back from Providence.

          2. falicon

            Yes would love to catch up when you are back! Would love to hear all about how the program went and your experiences throughout!

    2. Ben Tallman

      We spend so much time on the value (or scarcity) of the technical team member, but I think that just as important (and scarce) is the product manager/designer resource that can design a product and communicate that design.Balsamiq and it’s ilk have lowered that bar considerably, but don’t ignore the difficulty of moving from a one person team to a team that leverages distributed and/or offshore.

  14. jason wright

    These are the reflexes of an artist.

  15. kidmercury

    foursquare is a company that fascinates me. some may recall i awarded them the kid mercury award for company least likely to be embarrassed by bubble 2.0, arguably one of the highest honors a company can receive.i love their local search, to me this is what i been waiting for the whole time. it works great! i wonder if they can get distribution and usage though. when i’m out on the street, using my android phone……google is just going to be too easy. is there enough incentive to download the app or pull up the browser? that’s the multi-billion dollar question……the hardware/OS players have a huge edge here, i wonder if it is surmountable. where the hardware/OS players lose is really something i’m looking for to understand opportunities in mobile in the wake of bubble 2.0.

    1. fredwilson

      i think it needs to work better on the mobile web. that’s where i would want to use it if i didn’t already have the app installed

      1. Richard

        I agree. What do you feel is the secret sauce for mobile web? Any great standouts?

        1. fredwilson

          Simple clean UIs with big boxes and fonts

          1. Richard

            Give it a “native” app feel ? Or somthing closer to “web”? Or something inbetween? Clearly, fourquare has put this issue in the back burner. (With all due respect, why does 4sq even have mobile web version avaialble?)

  16. Ali Kholi

    Bill gates Acheive his goal , But we still didn’t get what we want from microsoft I hope google make theire own system Then we will said bye bye for…

    1. JamesHRH

      30 years ago, MS products were everywhere, everyone used them, they appeared out of the ether it seemed.Apple was a bunch of arrogant blowhards who knew better than everybody else.MS won when they should have won – when ground cover was the most valuable thing to provide.Apple won at the end, when experience was the most valuable thing to provide. Although their success is now undermining that position.Next up – inexpensive Mac computing assistance.

  17. michaelamar

    But how can you tell the mercenaries and even more subtly doubters before the rough patches to prevent the blow up?

    1. Ben Tallman

      In my experience, they aren’t hard to spot. What is hard is admitting what you see.

    2. Phillip Trotter

      Michael : you look for patterns.Mercenaries usually come in two flavors: Type 1: focus on their immediate rewards (pay, perks, privileges) at the expense of the team, company performance. Type 2: push for the company to flip any and every opportunity and do not buy into the long term vision to strategic agreed building activities that do not have a pay off point. Rather than build they want to sell at every opportunity. Doubters are spotted by longer term behavior. Again there are typically two types positive and negative.Positive doubt: Having healthy doubt about a direction or a decision can be a good thing – disagree, argue with data/insight, commit to make things better and live with an agreed decision – is a good thing. I view this as positive doubt or positive sceptism it drives you to do better. This is not a doubter this is someone who wants to build good things. The key following a process, arguing alternatives and living with the decision positively. Negative doubt continualyl undermines a team or progress – is really really dangerous and sets a cultural tone that can kill a start up. Doubters tend to whinge, the worst bad mouth decisions or team mates typically behind their backs and question people’s skills, and do not commit to decisions even if agreed by the team. They may be a little more sarcastic in reviews and team meetings regarding company goals, achievements or difficulties say one thing in public and then act differently in actions. They often fail to celebrate the positives that the team and company achieve (its usually followed up with continual cynicism). This is toxic for a company culture.A combination of mercenaries and negative doubters makes a really unhealthy work environment and just generates continual distractions that undermine achievement and progress. Look for the patterns, remove early as possible. (better yet try to learn not to hire them – after you have done it once – try to learn from it).Hope this helps

      1. michaelamar

        Thanks that is quite helpful.

  18. David Semeria

    I love the story about @dens not letting his dad invest in foursquare. That’s pure quality.

  19. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    This morning I was listening to a podcast from Seth Godin’s startup school series. One thing he mentioned that stuck in my head was the importance that entrepreneurs need to decide early on the degree of disruption they are planning on creating. This decision will probably define the vision of a startup and will become a critical factor when the going gets tough! I thought this was relevant to this discussion. Here is a link to Seth’s podcast series

  20. Pete Griffiths

    I couldn’t agree more. Imho a weakness of the lean startup movement is that whilst it provides much needed attention to product it has little to say about teams and culture, but it is these latter that destroy most companies.

    1. fredwilson

      lean to get going. sustainable to stay going.

      1. William Mougayar

        That’s a quotable one. I like it

      2. Pete Griffiths

        Yep. But the seeds of defeat, as you rightly observe, are sown very early. So lean at any cost and sustainable later is risky indeed. ;)I liked this on the ‘People’ section of your portfolio company Authentic8: “Early employees establish the cultural identity of the company…” Very true. I do find it a little disturbing how little this topic is discussed wrt lean. That is probably fine for old hands but can lead neophytes astray. Steve Blank’s, Ash Maurya’s and Eric Reis’s books, for example, have virtually nothing to say on teams and culture.

  21. ShanaC

    I know I am going to get haters, but I don’t see this post as explaining sustainability.I want to know what differentiates IBM that allows it to last a lot longer than A&P or Woolworth. I don’t get the feeling that these posts explain that at all.

    1. fredwilson

      you didn’t get any haters

    2. Tom Labus

      Great management. Lou Gerstner specifically.

    3. Richard

      Woolworth lived for lived for over 100 years. All companies have a life span. Go back and look at the fortune 500 index for each of the past 10 decades. It is remarkable just how quickly things change.

    4. LE

      “I want to know what differentiates IBM that allows it to last a lot longer than A&P or Woolworth.”Short answer to this is that it’s easi-er to get lazy as an organization if you can rest on your laurels and float along because there is a large steady stream of business that comes in from just doing the same thing (that keeps you afloat). So you tend to get lax. It’s human. As opposed to an organization that, by the nature of what they do, constantly has to be on edge and be selling and (hate the word but I will use it) innovating. My dad was a wholesaler and every season he had to constantly come up with new items to display at gift shows. He had to always be on his toes. (He had a percentage of staple items of course in that business but he constantly had to come up with new items to get orders from retailers and department stores.) In the business I was in at one point (printing and graphics) we had stable accounts but we had to pound the pavement every single day trying to turn up new accounts and make sure not to fuck up the existing accounts (you are only as good as your last job). No resting on laurels. So you know what your purpose is and you work all the time to achieve it.And it’s not a money thing either necessarily (although it could be). Take Fred for example. Fred wakes up every day and works as if he needs to because to Fred (I believe) resting on his past success would be close to failure. So he packs his weeks with meeting and he blogs even though monetarily at least he doesn’t need to. Because he wants to keep funding hits. He doesn’t want to be the guy with the hallway of faded pictures in his apartment from 20 years ago.In a sense this is another overlooked reason why difficulty and competition in business is actually good. It forces you to get up everyday and have a battle to fight. While nobody wants things to be to hard, the same goes for things being to easy. It would get boring and you would lack purpose.

  22. Lee Blaylock

    Love the way @dens focuses on the product. Yes, inferior products can win at times, but outstanding products create a fervent core of users who will be very loyal and allow you to innovate and grow during rough” true believers…I had a similar experience @ Dell were I started when it had just finished $59mm in sales and left when it was $5b, but it was the opposite b/c it was based on success. Once folks vested a lot of shares, then you knew who the mercenaries were when they left vs. the true believers who stuck around and kept adding value. The best example of as true believer I’ve ever seen is Steve Balmer. Love him or hate him, the guy was employee #5, didn’t run the show and was worth well north of $10b before he got the keys to MSFT. There are a lot of CEOs or founders, but not a lot of folks like Ballmer that not only scale w/ the biz, but do so when they hit what I call “volunteer stage” where they don’t need to work at all but are hittin’ it hard every day.As for mission, MSFT’s was solid (the end of that statement said “running msft software” though ) I’ve always gravitated towards John F. Kennedy’s b/c he time bound his. “We will put a man on the moon and return him safely by the end of the decade” that was a BHAG too (big hairy audacious goal) and dammit, we did it.I love goals that are SMART as the axiom goes.SpecificMeasurableAttainableRelevantTimely

  23. andyidsinga

    its a good video – I like how he talks about staying focused over worrying about the competition.

  24. awaldstein

    You are correct…and I stand corrected.I would ask though that as deeply integrated into its product as it is, is it winning the market share for them.For consumers they never understood how to market to us and still don’t IMO.And yes. .net is really a tool.

  25. Rohan

    Nice comment. Upvoted.

  26. ShanaC

    It means you were right about Jawaya.

  27. Ben Tallman

    I would say that the anti-trust agreement that MS signed has had WAY more of an effect on them than we give it credit. The goal of anti-trust legislation is to both protect the consumer and the ecosystem. Much of what a company like MS would do would involve integration.Google leverages it’s knowledge of you deep inside every product they have, but MS just can’t do that. Now with Balmer at the helm, I’m not sure they would do that, but comparing the MS of old with today’s MS isn’t really a fair comparison.In the past they had a few thousand employees and were driven by a geek (Bill). Today they have more like 100,000 employees and subs, and they are driven by a finance/sales guy. But Bill would be wasted on them today, as he wouldn’t be allowed to integrate.Getting a bit off topic here I guess, but while I type this on a Mac and leverage Linux and AWS all the time, I also help run a Gold Managed Partner and don’t discount that they have some amazing assets there.

  28. awaldstein

    Thanks for this.I knew Microsoft in the mid 90s really well. Personally.At Creative we were of the world’s largest distributor of Windows for a few years through our MultiMedia Upgrade kits and met with Gates 2 times a year.Post that post my experiences there I just watched them slide and never built a business that really had anything to do with them or their platform after that.

  29. laibacute

    i think they are right with that ..