Tag startups

Get things done. More building, less talking: A simple rule of thumb for raising money.

We're impressed by teams that get things done, and unimpressed by teams haven't even started to build something. I've often found myself thinking, "If you think this is so great an idea, why haven't you spent some weekends building a version 0 prototype?"
--Trevor Blackwell, partner at Y Combinator, via news.ycombinator.com

Seriously, whether you're raising pre-seed from YC, seed from angels, or Series A from VC's, you've got to get moving.

This is not college admissions -- nobody is here to pat you on the head. If you want to get ahead, you've got to build, build, build. A great idea on its own is worthless without a team that can make it real.

Geocities proves websites really are like sharks: if you stop moving, you die. A call to keep innovating.

It is staggering that Yahoo has moved to close Geocities -- a site with a decade worth of content. An Internet treasure (... of sorts.) And it's STILL being used by over 10 million people monthly. It's a top 100 site, according to compete.com.

Look at Google Sites, Google's website offering that has been around for a fraction of the time. They're only about 1/3rd the traffic of Geocities... but they're closing fast. Geocities has been taking a beating.

Why? For a completely reversible reason. Geocities has remained static and unchanging for years and years... and web software is like a shark. You stop moving and you die. I can only speculate about the team that got stuck in maintenance mode here.

There is an oft-repeated meme with startups around how it is staffed with commandos, infantry, or police. Commandos are the founders -- they go in guns blazing and destroy everything they see. But there aren't enough commandos, and when the front is breached, they make way for the infantry. They actually score the victory, building up upon the success of the commandos. Most mid-stage startups are waging battle at this level. And then... the police come in. They're bumbling, but the market is already owned, so they can eat donuts and get fat.

What if Yahoo had brought in a new set of commandos? Real gunners. Probably akin to what MySpace has done recently with their radical reorg. I can think of a dozen smart crack commando web startups out there that would chomp at the bit to save an Internet treasure like Geocities. Build new features, update the software to the 21st century, and get the ball rolling again. Zap that shark with a defibrilator and get it swimming again.

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YC Startup School 2009 - Thanks to YC and the speakers for another great year.

It was a pleasure and privilege to once again photograph Y Combinator's Startup School 2009 yesterday at UC Berkeley. An assemblage of several hundred awesome engineer/hackers and future founders got together to hear the most successful entrepreneurs of the computing and Internet revolution speak about what it takes and how to get there.

Funny story: I sat in the front row of SS08 last year. YC applications were due the following Monday (just as the latest application cycle is due this coming Monday). Was not a founder then, just a designer/engineer with a sparkle in my eye. I grabbed a seat in the front row and took photos of all the speakers from last year, (posted on my Posterous here). I posted my photos on Hacker News. YC partners Paul Graham and Jessica Livingston saw the photos... later they told me it played a part in helping us get selected for interviews out of the likely thousand or more apps for that batch! We accepted YC funding for Summer of 2008, launched 3 weeks into the program, raised an angel round in Oct 08, and so you're reading this now on a startup of our own.

I guess you have to give a little to get a little. We feel greatly appreciative of being a part of YC, so I couldn't think of a better thing to do than to take photos once again. If you were there at Berkeley yesterday, I was that guy with the white Canon L lens running around the stage. ;-)

The amazing speakers included...

Chris Anderson
Editor in Chief, Wired Magazine

Paul Buchheit
Founder, FriendFeed; Creator of GMail

Jason Fried
Founder, 37signals

Paul Graham
Partner, Y Combinator; Founder, Viaweb

Tony Hsieh
CEO, Zappos; Founder, LinkExchange

Mitchell Kapor
Partner, Kapor Capital; Founder Lotus

Greg McAdoo
Partner, Sequoia Capital

Biz Stone
Founder, Twitter

Mark Pincus
Founder, Zynga; Founder, Tribe; Founder, SupportSoft; Founder Freeloader

Evan Williams
Founder, Blogger; Founder Twitter

Mark Zuckerberg
Founder, Facebook

Want more photos? Check out the full 85 picture full gallery at my smugmug. That gallery includes full 12 megapixel images suitable for print. You may use these images with attribution link back to my blog. Thanks friends!

Startup career path

If your goal is to start a company, it is mostly a waste of time to work anywhere but a startup.
--Chris Dixon via cdixon.org

I agree. Large company experience prepares you for the rigors of navigating fiefdom and hierarchy and pleasing your boss. Those goals don't align you with creating value in the marketplace. But that's the entire point of startups! Get closer to the metal, not farther away.