Sunday, June 24, 2007

Three Waves of People

When we make hiring decisions at Xobni, one of the things we look at is how well we think a candidate fits into our environment.

I’ve often found myself referring to candidates as first-, second- or third-wave. I believe I stole this categorization from Bob Cringley’s Accidental Empires.

  1. First-wave people want to create success from nothing. They are the entrepreneurs, the founders. They see an opportunity, create a product, and yearn for success.

  2. Second-wave people want to make something popular more successful. These are the people who take an established idea and scale it up to fulfill its promise.

  3. Third-wave people want to join a successful environment and preserve the status quo. These are the operators who make sure business run smoothly.

This is not a measure of smartness or competence – we’d find similar levels of IQ and education across these groups. Instead, it’s an estimate of their appetite for risk and their payoff expectations. Entrepreneurs have a higher hill to climb, but treasure awaits at the summit.

It’s important to hire the right kind of people at the right time: Google and Microsoft are sourcing from the second or third waves. As a startup that has yet to release its product, we want to hire from the first.


Thanks to Adam Smith for discussions.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

NYC Profit Calculator

Here's a fascinating account of how businesses in New York - from cab driver to copy shop to the Museum of Modern Art - make money.

New York Magazine: The Profit Calculator

I feel like there are some lessons to be learned here. Cab drivers worry less about tips and more about your destination - if you take a ride out to Queens, they're losing money because they have to drive back through traffic. Yoga gurus sacrifice money for prestige. H&M pricing is essentially a variant of bait-and-switch, but with scarcely clad bikini models on billboards.