Great Entrepreneurs Will Listen To You But Will Follow Their Own Instincts
I told this story in the comments to saturday's video post, but since not everyone reads the comments and I want this to make it into MBA Mondays, I figured I would turn it into a case study.
In the early days of Tumblr, I used to bug David Karp, the founder and CEO of the Company, about comments. Though I had hacked my tumblog with Disqus, I wanted to be able to comment on other tumblogs and the vast majority of them had no comments because Tumblr did not support them natively. I was fairly persistent in my argument.
But David held firm. He wanted Tumblr to be a positive place on the Internet. The entire design of the service was with that in mind. There were loves (upvotes) but no downvotes. If you wanted to talk about someone's post, you had to reblog it to your tumblog and then add whatever you wanted to say. David thought that would eliminate trolling.
Eventually, I gave up and moved on to pestering some other entrepreneur about something I thought they should do with their product. David kept building positivity into his product and today there are 106 million blogs with 50 billion posts on them collectively.
In hindsight, I think David was right and I was wrong. I wanted him to build something that felt more like WordPress or Typepad (where I blog). He had something different in mind. And to David's credit, he had the courage of his convictions to follow his own instincts.
This is tricky territory for VCs and entrepreneurs. Because most of the time the entrepreneur will have a better feel for their product vision than the VC will. But there are times when what the entrepreneur is doing is not working and the VC will have to figure out how to get the entrepreneur to see that. I have learned to trust the entrepreneurs instincts until it is very clear I should not. Finding that line is art and not science and takes a lot of experience. And I still get it wrong from time to time.