Giving up a share

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Steve Ballmer was employee number 30 at Microsoft. He came at a time when Microsoft was full of technical people and Bill Gates needed a sales person with some business experience. Ballmer was a Harvard graduate, and did not think too much about the computer business; Bill Gates needed to give him a special incentive to join, and the incentive was a profit sharing plan: Gates offered Ballmer a certain percentage of Microsoft’s profits in exchange for joining the company. Steve Ballmer accepted the offer, which turned out to be one of the best deals in history ever done by an individual: after a few years the profits of Microsoft were so high, it needed to “buy out” Ballmer’s contract. They did it by giving him 8% share of the company: higher than anyone at the company at the time, except for the two founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen. The profit sharing contract was great for Ballmer, but changing over to a big share package wasn’t too bad for him either: he sold about half of his shares in 2003, for close to a Billion dollars in cash. But that’s not all: the remainder 4% is worth about 20 Billion dollars today. What a deal!

Time for strategy, time for tactics

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When reading startup advice, you will frequently encounter an emphasize on how much strategy is important. When looking at past successes and failures, it’s easy to see how important this is: going after the B2B instead of the B2C (or vice versa) can easily be the difference between failure and success.

Only the numbers rule

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Korean startup founders arriving to Silicon Valley are easily fooled by the casual atmosphere. It seems as if everyone are friends; employees are like family; business is done in a polite manner; no one yells or gets mad; even the supermarket cashiers will ask you how you are doing as though you are old friends. This would make you believe Facebook and Google reached Billions of dollars in revenues by being so nice to their employees that those felt compelled to return the favor with hard work and achievements. Sorry, that’s not the case.

A lie called: “We need more marketing”

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It’s amazing how easily rational people like us fall into believing in irrational magic. We have all done this: You read that Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos wake up at 5am and you get convinced that the key to your success is to be an early riser. Or you read something like “7 habits of highly successful people” and you suddenly feel assured that if you adopt these behaviors success will instantly come.

Fortune favors the quick

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Remember the question I asked in my last column about a week ago? I’m willing to bet you have no idea what I’m talking about. I don’t blame you – a week is a very long time, especially in today’s world. Many things have happened since in your personal life, at work, in politics, with your family. A hundred of questions have been asked of you during that time; lots of tasks and topics. A week is too long in our day and age to continue a discussion thread.

Your first version

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person-smartphone-office-tableSeeing your first product launch is in many ways like the experience of your first baby being born. It’s an amazing feeling. After such a long time, so many difficulties and heartaches, hopes and dreams – it is finally out. Exciting, isn’t it?

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