Startup = speed

A couple of months ago I wrote about remaining a startup with 100+ people. Today we are nearly 300 people and having an ever better appreciation of what being a startup means.

Startup is defined by growth. Growth is generated by the speed of the organisation … with a bit of luck. There is luck in the original idea, the supporting market condition, in the people who come together around the idea. Optimising for luck is near impossible. Hence the success of the startup after it has reached its first fragile product-market fit is determined by the speed at which the organisation can evolve the product and engage customers.

Speed of the organisation isn’t trivial. We have lots to learn from the 5-10 person pre-money startup teams, who are super focussed on their mission and are dedicating their every brainwave to making the product a success. These teams move incredibly fast. How to retain that same speed with 300+ people?


Only as good as your teacher

In 20 years time the predictions suggest that we have conquered most diseases with nanobots that slush around in our bloodstream. People aren’t allowed on highways, because they disturb the self driving cars. The virtual reality that is beamed onto our retina from smart glasses is 100% same as the reality.

The people, who will create this world are leaving school today. Some of these youngsters will get involved in designing and creating this world, others will learn to get by. Some will not be prepared for that new world at all.


Anatomy of the founder interview

We hired 200 people last year, going from 45 to 245 people in twelve months. My worries about how we’ll all fit together vanished this weekend seeing everyone thoroughly enjoying each other’s company at our all-hands meet.

We work hard to achieve that common culture powering our engine. It takes on average 4 interviews to become a Wiser. Some people have come through 8-9 rounds, case studies and trial days. The final step for every candidate is the founder interview. While the first interviews focus on the technical skills and the candidate’s fit for getting the job done, then this interview is about fitting into the culture.

Only if the team is perfectly aligned in their motivation and desires, only then is it possible for everyone to deploy their full potential on the hard problems that we’re solving. We have no time for any monkey business.


How to work like a startup with 100+ people

We’re just past our quarterly update excercise where we decide what to build over the next 3 months. The team has grown again, from ~80 revolutionaries last quarter to about 130 now. Reflected on a couple of learnings about high performing teams.

  • you can’t tell the team what to build
  • organise teams behind company goals
  • keep teams small and independent
  • supply the vision

Nothing matters more than speed in a startup. Removing friction and giving clarity around the vision and goals pays off like nothing else.


DIY video bridge with Hangouts

Startup teams are often distributed these days. If you have chosen the path of being in multiple locations you want to make sure, that everyone still feels being part of the same team and culture.  One of the no-brainers in addition to airmiles is to invest in video calling and linking up the offices with an always-on video bridge. (more…)

Government backed bitcoin

The early bitcoin enthusiasts were trying to solve the problem of money being controlled by governments. Some governments found it laughable, others were just confused. But what if a government really embraced Bitcoin?

People of Iceland recently started an experiment with airdropped auroracoin, designed to counteract the government’s fiscal policy. Icelandic enthusiasts are attempting to bypass macro- and monetary  policy. I would argue that there is another more tractable yet enormously valuable problem to solve. (more…)

Why governments don’t want to regulate bitcoin

Forgetting for a second that we live in a real world, I would argue that  Bitcoin has been the single most important invention on the internet since our ability to follow lives of celebrities in short messages of 140 characters. Unfortunately it feels that in the real world we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Recently I was among a few dozen central bankers across Europe together in an event and I could not help asking in a more informal setting, how do they think about Bitcoin? From what I hear, there are good reasons to disagree with economist Simon Johnson, who argues that goverments want to suppress bitcoin. (more…)