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Lessons From the Early Days of Google

"We had a lot of engineering discipline on how we built, not just what we built"

- Ben Smith, Former Technical Advisor to the CEO at Google

Other valuable insights from the session:

  • "Search is one of those fundamental product primitives in the same way that identity is... Many products at their core are search problems. You are trying to find the right thing in a bucket of stuff"

  • "Not all content is equal, not all users are equal... Maybe it might make more sense to extract information that users use a lot or you make more revenue from, or refresh them more often with higher fidelity, or apply a higher quality model to content that matters more. There's a lot of how you build principles that are universal between generative AI and engineering."

  • "As a startup, if you listen to what your advisors say or listen to what your board says and you do it, it doesn't mean you are going to win. It doesnt mean you succeed. What you need to do is to take it in as data... If you only rely on conventional wisdom, you will only be treading a path that other people have already gone down and your only hope is to out-execute people, which is not a great path to be on."

Watch the full session here.

More Snippets of Tactical Entrepreneurial Wisdom

  • Perfect is the enemy of good. Have a “ship-it” mentality. Give your team and yourself an 10-20% margin of error so no one is scared of making mistakes. It’s less important that mistakes happen(they will), and more important how you deal with it.

  • For something novel to drive actual growth, we need to achieve “come for x, stay for y” where the x-factor is novelty, and y-factor is the retained value. Customer onboarding/activation is the key bridge between curious users and helping them experience utility.

  • If you’re raising from VCs with large funds (i.e. $100M+), don’t have an exit slide. It may seem counterintuitive, but by having one, you’ve capped your exit value. Most early stage investors want to see 50-100x returns, to return the fund. And if their expected upside isn’t big enough, it won’t warrant the amount of risk they’re going to take to make back the fund. With angels or VCs with sub-$20M funds, it doesn’t matter as much.


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