Silicon Valley Unicorns vs the World? We’ve already seen that movie.

If you haven’t read Reconsider by DHH, go read it now, it definitely got me thinking about why I’m starting something new. Then there is this guy operating 10 businesses while sailing around the World with his family (all of which I learned about on Medium btw, congrats Ev Williams and team Medium).

Those two posts are opposing the Silicon Valley model versus “traditional way of doing business”:

  • aim for the moon and a billion dollar company versus a small, profitable business
  • fast growth and no profits versus breakeven and slow growth
  • “change the World” and ambitious versus just trying to make your customers happy
  • raise angel funding then VC funding then go public versus the founder(s) own everything and avoid having too many parties having any equity
  • do not monetize for years to get big (Facebook) versus generate revenue quickly
  • disrupt, dominate, capture customers, be the leader versus well, build a honest business where you get a fee for a good product or service
  • aim at a liquidity event so all investors and shareholders can make money versus just grow and even why not distribute dividends
  • success is becoming the next Uber, be worth $50 billion or more, public and changing the World versus well, simple, honest work.
  • exciting versus boring (in DHH’s own words)
  • “change the World” versus “work for yourself and free”

This isn’t new, I was reading about this during the 2000 bubble (did you guys hear about it?) it was already the disruption against traditional business. You can even go back to 1973 with “Small is Beautiful”. Amazon and Google were started in bubbles. Then Facebook in the 2008 crisis.

DHH is just warning us about the excess we’re seeing right now with a lot of craziness in the startup scene. Sure, there is some excess, but valuations are going down these days and it’s self correcting.

The business angels, VCs, getting public model is just a different way of building your business. Remember Facebook was built around the 2008 bubble (did you hear of that one?) when it was difficult to raise funding and Silicon Valley real estate was way lower. It’s a fantastic business and it would have been a shame to just keep it growing slowly. Mark Zuckerberg deserved to lead it to what it is today, impossible without the Silicon Valley model.

So I’d say, DHH, chill, it’s okay, there is for sure excessive valuations and bullshit products going nowhere but that doesn’t mean the whole Silicon Valley way should be called stupid, it’s just not for you.

Leave it to Slack in your own space, you can both coexist and succeed.

Huge respect to your way of growing your business, I also enjoyed Rework and would love to meet you at one point.

You definitely made me think about “Going Big or Not” as I’m working on my own startup these days. I’m definitely not trying to build the next Unicorn.

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