[AngelList founder Naval Ravikant] came back to a theme he’d touched on earlier in the interview, about how the world would be increasingly made up of very small startups interacting with each other through APIs. No big corporations.
To see how radical this idea is, look around the startup ecosystem. All of the most promising Web companies have done mega growth rounds at huge valuations. Facebook raised well over $1 billion in private equity before even going public and employs thousands. Even VCs and entrepreneurs who believe startups can change the world, believe you have to get big eventually. Sure you can be capital efficient at the beginning, but not at the end of a journey.
Ravikant argued that Instagram wasn’t a fluke — it’ll start to be the norm. He countered criticism that Instagram didn’t monetize by saying they only would have needed a handful of people to do it. And he went a step further, saying that Google and Facebook likely didn’t need 80 percent of the people working there. He argued Facebook could be built today with just a few hundred people.
This will be possible, he says, because future things will start to be outsourced that we couldn’t dream of being outsourced today. And whole armies of workers would wake up everyday, log onto whatever crazy hardware we’re using at the time, and get a daily assignment from a variety of companies — much like an Uber driver.
It’s now accepted-going-on-cliché to say things like ‘software is eating the world’, which is an aggressive way of assuming that every company now has to be at least a bit of a technology company, and those that want to grow rapidly even more so. Many new companies targeting industries as diverse as eyeglasses and baby food are, at the outset, leveraging technology for everything they do: supply chain management, marketing, recruiting, internal communication, product development, and so on. This makes these businesses look like technology companies, if you squint. But, of course, they aren’t. They’re eyeglasses and baby food companies.
…‘Tech company’ and ‘tech startup’ are over-applied labels that have outlived their usefulness. Calling practically all growing contemporary businesses ‘technology companies’ is about as useful as calling the enterprises of the industrial era ‘factory companies’; it accurately describes an aspect of what they are (or were), but it doesn’t really capture the totality of their operation. It certainly doesn’t tell you anything substantive about how they’ll behave in the market over the long term, which is probably the most useful reason to label a business at all.
(Alex Payne via GigaOm)
The 2012 ranking of the 500 largest corporations in the United States includes a record 18 firms helmed by female CEOs, up from 12 companies in 2011.
The previous record for women-led companies in the Fortune 500 was set in 2009, and included 15 firms run by female executives. Just seven Fortune 500 companies had female CEOs in 2002 and 2003.
Though this year marks a new high for female CEOs, women still run just 3.6% of Fortune 500 companies. And one in 10 Fortune 500 corporations have no women on their boards.
“Most people think that Amazon is selling Kindle devices at cost in order to make a profit on the sales of books and movies. But if Amazon is also giving away a lot of media for free—4 of the Top 10 books in the Kindle Store can be had for free under the Kindle lending program—then what is its business model for Kindle?
Giving away the razor to make money on the blades is a well-known strategy. But giving away the razor and the blades in order to make money on a subscription loyalty program as a way to sell everything else? Is that Amazon’s real goal with the Kindle—is Amazon in the device business only to sell Prime subscriptions, which the company sees as a key accelerant for sales across the rest of its site?
…We don’t know where Amazon expects to make money from in the future. Indeed, we barely know where Amazon makes money from now. The company refuses to divulge even the most basic stats about its business. Amazon’s earnings calls are a comedy of opacity and misdirection; you’d have a better chance getting a guard at Buckingham Palace guard to crack a smile than to get an Amazon exec to accidentally tell you about the company’s business.
…But all this misunderstanding can’t be an unalloyed good. Amazon is so opaque, with so many mysterious businesses and revenue streams, that you’ve got to wonder whether the people who work there even understand what it’s up to. In business, simplicity often wins. Selling me a device to get me to buy a membership in order to get a book for free. Is Bezos crazy like a fox? Or is he just plain crazy? We have no idea.”
“Facing yet another series of questions about the commercial prospects of Twitter, CEO Dick Costolo let his frustration with that particular line of inquiry show through: ‘Look, I appreciate everyone’s concern for our business, but it’s working phenomenally well,’ Costolo told a crowd at the Wired business conference Tuesday. ‘When I go to bed at night I don’t think, “Oh no, the business.”’”
- (via Forbes)
Sara Blakely was 29 when she invested her entire life savings, $5,000, trying to come up with something flattering to wear under her white slacks…. Since then, Blakely has taken Spanx from a one-product wonder sold out of her Atlanta apartment to a billion-dollar powerhouse with just under $250 million in annual revenues and net profit margins estimated at 20%. She owns 100% of the private company, has never advertised and never taken outside investment. Blakely turned 41 in February, making her the youngest female self-made billionaire in the world.
- Chad Dickerson, CEO Etsy | Scaling startups