Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Why startups are cooler

Many of my friends share my gut feeling about startups. That's where the fun is, where the upside is, where you can make the biggest impact. Michael Arrington captured the mentality really well in his article, Are You a Pirate?

Well, now there are some solid statistics to back up the intuition: when a company triples its headcount, on average, it halves employee productivity. This isn't obvious at first--if you graduate Stanford and work for Google instead of that startup you'll have a much smaller role in a much bigger enterprise. Well, multiply the two together and you get something less than one. At least in dollar terms--not my favorite way to measure impact, but certainly the most easily quantifiable--people at smaller companies make more of a difference. I think that this is a lot more pronounced in tech than in other places. Reminds me of "The Mythical Man-Month"--tech has this magic to it where the relationship between man-hours and the amount of win achieved is really weak. Microsoft can sink a billion dollars into Kin. One dude in a basement can make Minecraft.




As if I needed another reason! I've decided. I don't care if I have to live in shipping container like Hiro Progatonist from Snow Crash, with nothing but a box of ramen and fast internet. If I'm broke when I'm 30, it'll be because my startup failed in a suitably epic fashion. I'm definitely a pirate.

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