I’m somewhat influenced by the work of Anthony Robbins. If I remember it correctly, it was in his book entitled “Unlimited Power” that he asserted that the best way to improve your life is through asking empowering questions.
Well, Google. Larry Page. Sergey Brin. Who wants to know “What are 4-5 key decisions that Page and Brin made in the early days of Google?” [source]. Although the answer summary is as lame as global warming (yes, take that Al Gore), few original answers are really interesting. The best one (I mean the one that I really like) is presented below (just some excerpt) on the lesson learned:
- Choose a market that is exploding in size: mobile devices, cloud computing, (anything else to add to this list?)
- Google was not the first search engine, YouTube was not the first video sharing website, Facebook was not the first social network. Everyone knew that the search engine market was “mature” and that it was impossible for a new entrant to compete with Yahoo! and Altavista. Google came in and annihilated them anyway. Find competitive advantage and leverage technology.
- Maintain control of your company. If you cannot resist pressure from your investors to do the wrong things, your company will fail. Where would Google be today if it had left the consumer search market and focused solely on enterprise document search? Where would it be if it had copied Yahoo! and became a portal site?
- Early revenues and profitability are extremely important and give you a better bargaining position with investors. Google became profitable in its third year of operation according to its SEC form S-1 filing.
- Take as long as necessary to find the perfect CEO. When you are a startup and only have 5 million a year in revenue the CEOs you have access to will not be as good as the ones you will be able to acquire later. Do not be pressured into taking on a CEO who is not the right fit for the company you are building. Aggressively leverage high profile VC investor connections to gain access to competent high level talent.
- Company culture is extremely important to attracting talent. Paul Buchheit who invented Gmail left his job at Intel and took a pay cut to join Google. Everyone working at Google at the time “knew” that Google was going to be crushed by Altavista and Yahoo. He thought that Intel was doomed, because “Google was more fun” than working at Intel. Culture is more important than compensation for attracting star employees and you should leverage it.