Sunday, September 16, 2007

CEO conversation: Startup personalities

I had a great strategy discussion about the immediate future of the Internet with a couple other CEOs and a VC partner this past Saturday. Most of what we talked about can't see the light of day, but one snippet is shareable and worth sharing:

"There are three kinds of startup employees: People who want to win, people who want to be right, and people who want to make money. You can hire all three, but especially in senior management, you have to understand what kind of personality each person has; because they'll be motivated by different things, and under stress, they'll react (and fail) in different ways."

My CEO friend went on to say that his A-round backer told him that he'd decided to fund the company because the CEO is a "want to win" kind of guy, and the VC believed that the biggest startup successes are founded by "want to win" CEOs. I am sure that other VCs would strongly prefer "want to make money" founders; and some of your core engineers (particularly the ones in scaling and operations) had better be "want to be right" guys.

I think I'm somewhere in between "want to win" and "want to be right". I'm definitely not a "want to make money" guy -- I assume that will be a considerable artifact of the other two, and in the meantime, I've got a nice garden, a nice woodshop, and a nice view -- none of which I get to appreciate as much as I should, because I spend all my time working on winning and on being right :-)

Startup life.

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