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,
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.