I have 2 big-ish announcements:
1. Passed “Day 731.” 2 years of daily blogging.
2. A few friends and I are launching a project that I am really excited about. Bookclub is the best way to track/share the books you read.
Subscribe here for early access. Would mean a ton!
As always, hope you enjoy the newsletter 👇Articles to Read.
About a month after we started Y Combinator we came up with the phrase that became our motto: Make something people want. We’ve learned a lot since then, but if I were choosing now that’s still the one I’d pick. Another thing we tell founders is not to worry too much about the business model, at least at first. Not because making money is unimportant, but because it’s so much easier than building something great.
A couple weeks ago I realized that if you put those two ideas together, you get something surprising. Make something people want. Don’t worry too much about making money. What you’ve got is a description of a charity.
For example, Craigslist. It’s not a charity, but they run it like one. And they’re astoundingly successful. When you scan down the list of most popular web sites, the number of employees at Craigslist looks like a misprint. Their revenues aren’t as high as they could be, but most startups would be happy to trade places with them.
The best advice I’ve ever gotten about thinking came from a private-company CEO who has a thirty-year track record that’s up there with Warren Buffett’s. One day he said to me, “Shane, most people don’t actually think. They just take their first thought and go.”
We’re all busy. We’ve got meetings, phone calls, texts, kids, spouses, parents, friends, and of course the ever-present email. Busyness has become an end in itself, and nothing is more dangerous. What my CEO friend meant was that people are losing the ability to think through a problem.
Facebook never sought to be the vector of in-depth knowledge for its users, or a mind-opener to a holistic view of the world. Quite the opposite. It encouraged everyone (news publishers for instance) to produce and distribute the shallowest possible content, loaded with cheap emotion, to stimulate sharing.
Facebook is not as morally flawed as Big Tobacco were. But it should forgo using similar tactics. Even if the so-called “values of Silicon Valley” Facebook wants to embody equal roughly to the relation that a Miami plastic surgeon has with the Hippocratic Oath.
Build Something People Want
We know that we have built something which is genuinely useful: almost any team which adopts Slack as their central application for communication would be significantly better off than they were before. That means we have something people want.
However, almost all of them have no idea that they want Slack. How could they? They’ve never heard of it. And only a vanishingly small number will have imagined it on their own. They think they want something different (if they think they want anything at all). They definitely are not looking for Slack. (But then no-one was looking for Post-it notes or GUIs either.)
Get ready for the long goodbye to car culture, many domestic flights, and insurance premiums.
Investing is a game of probabilities, and almost all probabilities are less than 100%. So you’re going to be wrong and lose sometimes, even when the odds were in your favor. The late investor Peter Bernstein: “You just have to be prepared to be wrong and understand that your ego had better not depend on being proven right. Being wrong is part of the process. Survival is the only road to riches.”
The best results happen when your interests align with others’. This sounds obvious but few business models truly scratch every stakeholder’s itch. Once you view businesses as a collection of people trying to solve each other’s problems, with some groups that can be taken advantage of for a period of time but never all of the time, you see investments mostly through the lens of aligning interests of everyone involved.
Dorky motivational posters invented internet memes and changed the way we make fun of work.
For a time in the late 20th century, a Successories poster was an essential feature of office décor. The format never varied: a black border, a bold-type word, and a forgettable platitude, like “Take the initiative and lead the way” or “The strength of the team is in each individual member.” The posters evoked a particular strain of management culture: earnest, a little out of touch, and resolutely unremarkable.
More to Check Out:
– Snapchat is taking on e-commerce
– A Life Unlived
– Self-Flying Camera
– My friend’s project -> Awesome Filters for Snapchat.
– Wikipedia Zero is Shutting DownLike reading books? Check out Bookclub.
– Published a blog post for the 731st day in a row. 2 full years.
– Writing this from Shanghai. Headed on a solo-journey to Central Vietnam next week. Excited.