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March 10, 2007

Startup Urge

I recently heard of two people who are leaving Microsoft to start their own companies. One of them is Christopher Payne, VP of Search; the other is someone you have never heard of (yet!).

This may be a fatal character flaw, but I personally have no urge to start my own company or "do a startup" with some other people. I think the main reason is because my parents were/are of an academic bent. I know people whose parents impressed upon them, from an early age, the importance of being your own boss (and presumably nudged them in that direction, whatever their career success). But not mine, for which I am glad. I don't have any concerns that I am letting my parents down by drawing a salary, and I don't chafe under any built-in revulsion at working for "the man".

Understand, of course, that I'm not out there breaking rocks every day; the software industry in general, and my job in particular, allows me to operate with an impressive degree of independence. Still I have no sense that things would be any better if I hung out my own shingle. I view it more as a negative; having to worry about payroll and rent and equipment, prostrate myself to venture capitalists for money, argue with my partners over the couches on the corporate jet...who needs it! Yes, there would be some plusses, like being able to order up a Mariners suite for the season, but I don't view the fundamental "I am working for myself" as a particular benefit.

I was once talking to a Microsoftie about his dream of doing a startup; when I asked him what he wanted the company to do, he shrugged and explained that there were lots of ideas floating around; they just needed someone to run with them. I'm not saying never: I may one day start a small company. But it would be to pursue a specific idea, not because I was living the dream.

Posted by AdamBa at March 10, 2007 03:00 PM

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Really sounds like you're trying to convince yourself.

Posted by: Harumph at March 10, 2007 08:11 PM

Interesting that it would read that way, but you'll have to take my word that I really have no interest.

- adam

Posted by: Adam Barr at March 11, 2007 08:21 AM

I suspect that for many, a startup is not about being the boss, but about the dream of fabulous wealth. I don't think anyone working for salary will ever make the kind of money that an IPO would bring in.

Posted by: Avi at March 11, 2007 09:57 AM

I met and got to know (a bit) Sergey Brin a year or two before Google was launched and I don't think he was motivated either by being his own boss or prospects of fabulous wealth. He had a really cool idea and wanted to see how it flew.

I have always felt that when you are a successful businessman you are controlled by the most demanding boss of all: yourself (if that boss is not demanding, it is unlikely you will be successful). I imagine Adam absorbed that idea too.

Posted by: Marble Chair at March 12, 2007 06:36 AM

Funny, I have an idea for a Startup, I just havn't bothered to quit my job to do it... and probably won't for a good while.

Posted by: Fox Cutter at March 12, 2007 08:16 AM