Before I joined Sequoia I was a founder, so I know what it’s like to have to learn as you go. My first four companies did not go as well as I hoped. Sequoia invested in my fifth startup, AdMob, while I was still in business school. What I learned from AdMob’s success (and more importantly from the previous four companies), is that the value lies more in the execution than the idea. You can have an idea, but executing it well is what matters. I also learned that product market fit is a visceral feeling—and when it happens, you’ll feel it.
Entrepreneurship is like Battleship. Your failures map out your successful targets later.
I've found that unconventional insight in a space that doesn't get much attention often leads to the most exciting opportunities.
I’d say I’m an entrepreneur with a focus on product and technology. Significant experience in mobile, but with a general interest in consumer internet, as well.
The phone, in many ways, is the first “thing” in the internet of things. People are asking, “Why can’t you take all the other items in my life and give them these powers that I now expect and understand?”
We’re dealing with a user base that’s effectively up-leveled. And companies that do what people now know is possible are being rewarded, quickly.
My first job was walking into small businesses and seeing if they needed help with their computers.
At AdMob we spent a lot of time talking about what was wrong. When people would visit our board meetings I’d have to prepare them ahead of time, basically saying, “Don’t worry. The company’s not falling apart. This is just how we are.”
You can just be a lot more productive if you spend time on the things that aren’t going well.
Avoid arrogance at all costs.
If you go to business school — or probably any professional school — with these highly motivated people, they’re stressed out of their minds. As if they’re going to be homeless if they don’t get an internship in the summer.
People just greatly miscalculate risk, in my opinion. They’re too afraid of things.
So many times I was sure something was going to work and it hit the market and fell flat.
If you can find someone who isn’t afraid to tell you you’re an idiot, and who really brightens your day when they give you some positive feedback, keep that person nearby.
I speak English, Arabic and Spanish. Un poquito.
Young entrepreneurs hear all this celebration of people who are difficult to work with and think, “Jeez, maybe I'm not doing this right. I need to be more aggressive, I need to be more rude.”
At the end of the day, business is a transaction between people. And just being a decent human being goes a long way.
If you have to constantly look at what your competition is doing in order to guide your next step, you’re not an entrepreneur. You’re an opportunist.
My son was born nine weeks early and weighed three pounds at birth. Holding something so important, but so fragile, was the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced. Thankfully he did great after that and it all turned out wonderfully.
When things are going well you can always raise more money or hire more people. Your most limited resource is time.