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Business = (Idea x Execution) + Luck

I just got done reading “Anything You Want” by Derek Sivers, founder of CDBaby, an online CD store that was founded in 2007 for independent musicians to sell their CDs directly to consumers. Loved the book. Thanks go to Lee Bradshaw for recommending it to me.

Anything You Want - Book Cover

My favorite takeaway from the book:

It’s so funny when I hear people being so protective of ideas. (People who want me to sign an NDA to tell me the simplest idea.)

To me, ideas are worth nothing unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.



GREAT EXECUTION = $1,000,000

To make a business, you need to multiply the two.
The most brilliant idea, with no execution, is worth $20.
The most brilliant idea takes great execution to be worth $20,000,000.
That’s why I don’t want to hear people’s ideas.
I’m not interested until I see their execution.

Contrary to Sivers’ last couple of lines, I am interested in hearing about your idea, because if it’s great or brilliant and you can’t execute on it, I’ll buy it off you for $15-$20, then go execute on it like it’s my job 🙂



After re-thinking the equation, I think it’s missing one variable: luck.

Startup luck is often tightly correlated to timing.  Entrepreneurs live in the future, and so we can have a hard time accurately judging when the market will be ready to accept a new product or technology.  So hitting the timing right can often seem like a stroke of pure luck.

So instead of the equation being:
Business = Idea x Execution

I think it needs to be:
Business = (Idea x Execution) + Luck


Prediction: I will live and work in CA by 2015

Just got back from a business, day trip to SFO.

Every time I go out west (specifically San Francisco), I re-realize how nice it is out there and how much I really need to be a part of the tech/startup scene in Silicon Valley.

Driving around the city, you see cool tech startups all over the place.  VC funds are everywhere!

…plus you see billboards for, Square, and other hot startups.  You don’t see that anywhere else in the country, definitely not in DC.

I love it and I can’t wait to be a part of it all.


Prediction: Facebook Stock > Google Stock by 2018

  • Facebook IPOs in 2012.
  • Facebook dominates your entire Internet experience by utilizing your social graph
  • Facebook eventually “cracks the revenue code” like Google did with AdWords & AdSense
  • Google slowly dies (unless they acquire Facebook)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) dies and it becomes all about Social Graph Optimization (SGO) and News Feed Optimization (NFO)

Back in 2005 (a year after joining Facebook when I was a student at Virginia Tech), I was telling people that Facebook would be a bigger and more powerful company than Google.  People laughed at me and called me insane.  But it was just so obvious to see how many college students were completely addicted to a website – I have never seen such usage and engagement ever before (and I still haven’t seen a page more addicting to the common person than Facebook).  Google is probably the biggest competitor in that sense, but people use it for 10 seconds then they’re off after clicking the first couple of results.  Then maybe some porn websites can rank up their in terms of traffic and addiction levels, but that’s limited in terms of audience, morality, and there’s only so much money to be made there.

Anyway, I’m kicking myself I didn’t actually document my claims in writing way back then, because people still don’t believe I could see Facebook being such a big deal – but it was so crystal clear.

I don’t know exactly how Facebook is going to “crack the revenue code”, but they have so much time, money, and power – they’ll eventually figure it out.  Whether it’s true social shopping with Facebook Commerce (fCommerce, the new eCommerce) or it’s Facebook destroying Google and all other search engines by totally killing off all SEO practices and moving the search focus relevancy to your specific tastes and likes compounded and further enhanced by your friends’ web history, likes/dislikes, and recommendations.

I’m looking forward to it.  I just wish Facebook IPO’d back in 2007-2008 because I would have plowed my entire life savings into them.  Even with the crazy potential I believe they have in their future, I’m worried about their IPO because I’m afraid there isn’t enough money in the world for a Facebook IPO.


LinkedIn IPO

  • Valuation of $4B+.  Raised $350MM+ in its offering.  One of the largest tech IPOs since Google in 2004.
  • Initial public offering was at $45/share.  Closed the day at $94.25. (+105%)
  • Underwriters screwed LinkedIn out of $130MM+ by under-pricing the stock and selling it cheaply to their institutional clients

The LinkedIn IPO sets the stage for Groupon, LivingSocial, Zynga, and especially… Facebook.

This will be interesting.  I’m afraid there isn’t enough money in the world for a Facebook IPO.