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Ben Barren - Confessions of a Mad Man » The Evan Williams vs Jim Collins Mash-Debate

The Evan Williams vs Jim Collins Mash-Debate

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Originally uploaded by redbarren.

Evan Williams has a list for us to drive up on memeorandum :


#1: Be Narrow
#2: Be Different
#3: Be Casual
#4: Be Picky
#5: Be User-Centric
#6: Be Self-Centered
#7: Be Greedy
#8: Be Tiny
#9: Be Agile
#10: Be Balanced
#11 (bonus!): Be Wary
“Overgeneralized lists of business “rules” are not to be taken too literally. There are exceptions to everything.”

In contrast, Jim Collins (who) spent 6 years writing ‘Built to Last’, which if not the highest selling business book ever, is close, and actually well written and excellently researched (Stanford ironically, vinteresting here) more importantly. (which as Rupert Murdoch says is rare amongst business books) : Jim’s research is longitudinal and nicely contrasts with the here today gone tomorrow Web 2.0 principles. Collins’ focus is on “how to separate out real timeless principles that make something great versus just happenstance or luck.”


#1: Be clock-builders, not time-tellers
#2: Embrace the “and”, reject the “or”
#3: More than profits
#4: Walk the talk
#5: Preserve the core ideology while stimulating progress
#6: Never-ending process
#7: Build the vision.

The only analysis I would make is that Williams Rule #8 ‘Be Tinyseems incongruous with Collins’ Rules 1 + 7 : ‘Be Clock Builders‘ + ‘Build the Vision’. I think focus is a great rule, but ‘being tiny’ as a mindset/rule, so you can flip the company for less than $50M to get around accounting issues with your true valuation is just the anthesis of entrepreneurship to me. evhead did sell his first company to Google and get his second podcasting one substantially funded, which I didnt, so The Farmer may be right, or lucky. Time etc

#8: Be Tiny : It’s standard web startup wisdom by now that with the substantially lower costs to starting something on the web, the difficulty of IPOs, and the willingness of the big guys to shell out for small teams doing innovative stuff, the most likely end game if you’re successful is acquisition. Acquisitions are much easier if they’re small. And small acquisitions are possible if valuations are kept low from the get go. And keeping valuations low is possible because it doesn’t cost much to start something anymore (especially if you keep the scope narrow). Besides the obvious techniques, one way to do this is to use turnkey services to lower your overhead—Administaff, ServerBeach, web apps, maybe even Elance.”

And the final speaker in this Mash-Debate is Jim Collins who will recite, thanks to Jeff Bezos, The first page of his book, Built to Last, which starts with a quote from The Founder of Hewlett Packard, who I dont think would have flipped a Burger Co’ before;

“As I look back on my life’s work, I’m probably most proud, of having helped to create a company that by virtues of its values, practices and success has had a tremendous impact on the way companies are managed around the world. And I’m particularly proud that I’m leaving behind an ongoing organization that can live on as a role model long after I’m gone.”
William R.Hewlett, Co-Founder, Hewlett-Packard Organisation, 1990.
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