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What I Know Now

| March 18, 2005

by Jim Bruce

As I was reading the current issue of Fast Company, I ran across a

longer column reporting on a conversation with Joe Kraus on what he

now knows.  Kraus was a founder of Excite that in 1996 became one of the

biggest tech IPOs ever.  At 33 he is not starting Jotspot, a hosted

Internet service that allows anyone to create and edit Web pages.


I thought you might find his lessons instructive.


Trust that each of you will find time for “you” this weekend.




Excerpts from What I Know Now, Joe Kraus, from Fast Company, April 2005,

page 104:


o  I take every complaint to heart.  When somebody doesn’t like the

   service, it pains me.  I want to know why.


o  Vinod Khosla, a cofounder of Sun Microsystems [jdb: Khosla is also a

   General Partner of the venture capital firm of Kleiner, Perkins,

   Caufield & Byers], is a mentor.  He never wants to focus on what’s

   going well.  He only focuses on things that are going poorly.  He has

   drilled the importance of that into my  head, which has caused me to

   lose a lot of sleep.


o  Never compromise on hiring.  Every time I’ve compromised, I’ve come

   to regret it.  You have to be tough, even if that means not hiring

   people who could turn out to be great, because of the damage one

   person who isn’t great can do.


o  Nothing demotivates people like the equal treatment of unequals.

   When you hire a bozo and treat him the same as a rock star, it

   deflates the rock star.


o  Very early on, the founders of startups [jdb: and other leaders]

   make an important choice.  Do they want success or control?  Neither

   is bad so long as the choice is explicit.  I’ve picked success.  And,

   success implies giving up control — hiring people who are much

   better than you, or being willing to be the janitor if that’s what’s



o  The most important lesson I’ve ever leaned is the power of

   persistence.  Never give up.