When a source sells out to a money story

This video is painful to watch!

Here’s the story: A source (founder) starts a company with a beautifully simple vision: “send one engaging email to users each day.” It’s a roaring success and they sell the company for $125M. The new owners start sending eight emails per day and then chasing each new money making online marketing fad.

The company drifts from its vision and eventually the new owner shuts down the company. The Source says ‘The new owners didn’t realise they were buying a brand.’

Watch the video and notice how the passion was drained out of the initiative by chasing the money, not the vision.

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Businesses start with vision & passion, not money: 50 founding visions

One of the source principles is that nobody ever starts anything with money. The source (founder) always starts with a personal need. The need unpacks into a vision (even a blurry one) for a future where the need is being met, and they have passion for it, which provides the energy that compels them take the first risk. It’s the vision and the passion which attract other resources, like money and other people to help.

If you have any doubts about this principle, here’s a wonderful video where 50 wildly successful entrepreneurs share their founding vision.

Jeff Bezos – Amazon – 0:00
Steve Jobs – Apple – 0:12
Pierre Omidyar – eBay – 0:33
Michael Dell – Dell – 0:59
Sergey Brin – Google – 1:16
Biz Stone – Twitter – 1:35
Gary Vaynerchuk – Wine Library – 1:50
Daniel Ek – Spotify – 1:58
Kevin Rose – Digg, Tiiny – 2:29
James Altucher – “Choose Yourself” – 2:55
Robert Greene – “Mastery” – 3:21
Guy Kawasaki – Apple – 3:35
Steve Wozniak – Apple – 4:06
Mark Cuban – Broadcast – 4:26
Sam Altman – Loopt – 5:01
Tony Fadell – Nest – 5:12
Danae Ringelmann – Indiegogo – 5:26
Simon Sinek – book author – 5:46
Seth Godin – Marketing guru – 6:25
Evan Williams – Blogger, Twitter, Medium – 6:52
Reid Hoffman – LinkedIn – 7:13
Jack Dorsey – Twitter, Square – 7:45
Kevin Systrom – Instagram – 8:08
Drew Houston – DropBox – 8:34
Brian Chesky – Airbnb – 8:53
Peter Thiel – PayPal – 9:04
Elon Musk – Tesla, SpaceX – 9:14
Alan Schaaf – Imgur – 9:36
Chris Sacca – Baller Investor – 9:56
Paul Graham – Y Combinator – 10:18
Dennis Crowley – Foursquare – 10:40
Eric Ries – The Lean Startup – 11:11
Leah Busque – TaskRabbit – 11:25
Anthony Casalena – Squarespace – 11:44
Alexis Ohanian – Reddit, Hipmunk – 12:03
Jason Fried – Basecamp – 12:21
Palmer Luckey – Oculus Rift – 12:42
Kamal Ravikant – AngelList – 12:52
Ben Silbermann – Pinterest – 13:19
Tony Hsieh – Zappos – 13:43
Andrew Mason – Groupon – 14:14
Richard Branson – Virgin – 14:39
Andrew Ljung – Soundcloud – 15:08
Justin Kan – Justin.tv – 15:30
Jessica Livingston – Y Combinator – 15:59
Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook – 16:14
Marc Andreessen – Andreessen Horowitz – 16:15
Dustin Moskovitz – Facebook – 17:22
Tim Ferriss – 4 Hour Work Week – 17:47
Emmett Shear – Twitch – 18:24

Hat-tip to Inc. Magazine.

Twitter and Jack Dorsey’s story through a source lens

This post is based on an email exchange between Charles Davies, Peter Koenig and Tom Nixon.

Here’s some fascinating insight into Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, and founder of Square. If we look at his story through a lens of the source principles, it’s much easier to understand the tensions and events which have unfolded.

Dorsey has had an awkward (to say the least) relationship with Twitter. This makes sense since Ev Williams was the source of the company in which Dorsey came up with the idea for Twitter. But Dorsey is clearly the source of the Twitter product itself. It looks like Williams and Dorsey never reconciled this.

My hunch is that Dorsey’s passion (which we can see he has in spades from the energy he has put into Square) was stifled at Twitter. This is normal when a source is not recognised as such or doesn’t stand in their full authority.

A huge contrast at Square where he has been an absolute demon of authority, although it looks like he is doing it the difficult way – through absolute control and micro-management rather than providing a very clear brief for others to follow.

Meanwhile, Williams founded his next company, Medium, using Holacracy as the ‘operating system’. Holacracy is a wonderful model, but with some fundamental flaws in how it handles creative authority. Perhaps, having had such bitter experience with his and other’s authority at Twitter, he is rejecting authority, and decentralising it to a group. It’s likely this will cause problems for Medium in the future as it drifts without a clear owner of the vision. We might also see Williams lose his own passion for the enterprise.