The person who was Employee #2 at Pinterest (and then left) wrote a good article titled, Reflecting On My Failure to Build a Billion-Dollar Company.
“Every person in your company is a vector. Your progress is determined by the sum of all vectors.”
That’s a quote from Elon Musk. In this context a vector is what I know about from my engineering background, a company of both a speed and a direction, something like this:
case class Vector(speed: Double, direction: String)
The correct thing about that quote is that the worst employees I ever had pulled in a direction that was somewhere around 180 degrees opposite of the direction we were aiming for. For example, if nine out of ten employees are rowing a boat that’s headed east, an employee that’s rowing towards the west is going to slow everyone else down.
Unfortunately I never had much success turning those people around, so they were always fired or encouraged to find other work. Over the years we had everything from people whose work had to be completely re-done to people who had agendas during the 8-5 work hours that had nothing to do with the company’s agenda.
Here are a few definitions of the term “intrinsic value” in investing.
The intrinsic value is the actual value of a company or an asset based on an underlying perception of its true value including all aspects of the business, in terms of both tangible and intangible factors. This value may or may not be the same as the current market value. Additionally, intrinsic value is primarily used in options pricing to indicate the amount an option is in the money.
“When someone learns to drive a race car, one of the first lessons taught is that when you are going around a curve at 200 mph, do not focus on the wall; focus on the road. If you focus on the wall, you will drive right into it. If you focus on the road, you follow the road. Running a company is like that.”
~ Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things
“Things derive their being and nature by mutual dependence,
and are nothing in themselves.”
I mentioned earlier that when you’re building a business, you should hire well, and this is true across every aspect of your business. A “secret” that I stumbled onto when I started Mission Data is that you have to be strong everywhere: Marketing, sales, accounting, the service you provide, and you even need to have a good lawyer.
“When it’s time to be a general, be a general.
When it’s time to be a monk, be a monk.”
A friend of mine is currently unemployed, and as I've talked to her about ways to approach her situation, I'm reminded of how I started Mission Data.
So much happened in our business in the years 2000 through 2002, I could easily write a separate book about everything we did to survive. If the first few years of business were at the “easy” end of the spectrum, these years were way, way over at the “difficult” end. I’m glad to say we survived the dot-com bust, and then survived the bad business environment that followed the events of September 11, 2001. By mid-2002 I considered us fortunate to still have the same fifteen full-time employees. We didn't have to lay anyone off, and nobody left the company.
Fast-forward from that time until just before the dot-com bust in 2000, and life was good. Our business had grown, and we now had fifteen full-time employees, a few part-time contractors, and sales over $2M for the last few years. Our biggest problem was still trying to retain our employees, and find the next good employee (or two) who could lead projects and help grow the business to over twenty people.
I read some books about the legal process of starting a company, talked to a few local accountants and business attorneys I found in the Yellow Pages, and started my new business from the basement of my house. I got a business phone line, had some business cards made, created some business stationery, learned how to use QuickBooks, learned a little more about accounting than I already knew (I started off as a business major in college), called some old contacts, and I was in business.
Before jumping into the diary, there is some essential background material that I need to cover to help provide some context for the diary itself. I'll cover only the items that I think are essential to your understanding the diary.