The Physics of Startups – Shai Agassi

One podcast I listen to pretty religiously is the Entrepreneurial Thought Leadership podcast from Stanford University. Recently, Shai Agassi, formerly of SAP gave a talk called The Physics of Startups, which was very interesting.

There were a couple of things that stuck with me out of this talk:

  • Money for a startup is like air. You shouldn’t be concerned with it unless you are in a vaccuum. In other words, money can’t be the reason you are in business.
  • The difference between ‘success’ and ‘failure’ for a startup is microscopic. The difference between a Yahoo or Google and a failed startup could be just a matter of a few days
  • Startups need to use the “gravity” of larger companies to stay alive.
  • If you are working on anything Web 2.0 right now, its not new anymore. He compared it to a surfer catching the back of a wave. They don’t do it because all of the energy is gone by that point. “No one every caught the back of a wave and hit shore”. You need to catch a wave at its start, to utilize all of its energy. So surfers make a “bet” that the coming wave has the energy to get them to shore. The quote he uses is “If its already in WIRED, its already too late”.

It was a very interesting talk. Check it out if you have some time.