Culture Startup

What the greatest technology investors say about the Startup Culture


The following is a list of the post titles by author under this topic.  Scroll further down this page to find the actual blog post by your selected author.   Author’s posts appear in reverse alphabetical order except for Peter Thiel’s post which appears towards the beginning of the page. For the others for example, following this list, Fred Wilson’s posts appear towards the beginning of the blog page, and David Cohen’s  post appears towards the end of the blog page.  

DAVID COHEN (1 post)

David Cohen: Many Successful People are Deliberate about Randomness

BILL GROSS   (2 posts)  

Bill Gross:  Lessons from Flops

Bill Gross: Balance Entrepreneur's Strengths

DAVE MCCLURE  (1 post)

Dave McClure:  Startup Success Often Boils Down to 2 Things

PETER THIEL (1 post)

Peter Thiel:  A New Company’s Most Important Strength

FRED WILSON  (5 posts)

Fred Wilson:  Sustainability by Fred Wilson

Fred Wilson:  Sustainability:  Short Term Profits vs. Long Term Health

Fred Wilson:  Culture, Values & a Vow to a Great Workplace are Everything

Fred Wilson: Fred Wilson: Hire for Culture & Fit

Fred Wilson: Fred Wilson: The CEO is responsible for hiring

A New Company’s Most Important Strength

Peter Thiel General Partner Founders Fund and former entrepreneur

“A new company’s most important strength is new thinking []. This book is about the questions you must ask and answer to succeed in the business of doing new things [].  Because that is what a startup has to do: question received ideas and rethink business from scratch.”   Peter Thiel, Zero to One, copyright 2014, pg 10-11

Fred Wilson: The CEO is responsible for hiring

Fred Wilson venture capitalist and Co-Founder Union Square Ventures

“Most CEOs [Wilson] know[s] interview every hire [until headcount reaches over 100].   Even if [there’s an HR (human resource) head] and a top notch recruiting team, the responsibility for hiring is [the CEO’s]. A bad hire is [the CEO’s] fault. A good hire is [the CEO’s] success.  [The CEO should] make the final call on each hire until [the] company is developed [and strong enough] to start making these hires themselves.  That is how [to] build a great team,[culture and] company.”  Fred Wilson, MBA Mondays: Best Hiring Practices, Jun. 11, 2012;

Fred Wilson: Hire for Culture & Fit

Fred Wilson venture capitalist and Co-Founder Union Square Ventures

“Some entrepreneurs and CEOs buy into "hire the best talent available" mantra. [] The other approach [Wilson advocates] is [to] hire for culture and fit.

[] Diversity should be a core value of the team building process. [Seek] diversity of thought, experience, mindset, and angle of attack.

Don't hire a token []. But most importantly, hire people who will enjoy working together, who fit well together, who will make each other better. This is what hiring for cultural fit means. [Start] with the founding team and build on top of that.

[][Have] a one pager that outlines the [company’s core values].  [] [Each] new hire should be assessed against [that] framework [for fit].”  Fred Wilson  MBA Mondays: Culture And Fit, May 21 2012;

Culture, Values & a Vow to a Great Workplace are Everything

Fred Wilson venture capitalist and Co-Founder Union Square Ventures

Once the user base supports a long-term sustainable business (stage 2), the final “building the business” stage begins, i.e., building a management team including leaders for engineering, product, customer support, finance, marketing, sales, business development and HR (human resources). 

“Founders should think of the business as [the ultimate product being built] because from the company can come [additional products and initiatives].  The company, if built correctly [with strong founder commitment], will be more important than any single product it can create”. 

Wilson recommends that the founder /CEO have “a partner to help [] build the company” like a senior, experienced HR leader or “a strong number two, a President or COO.”

“[The] people side of the business is harder and way more complicated than building a product is.  [Culture], values and a commitment to creating a fantastic workplace [must] come from the top [and are everything]. [] [If] there is a meaningful culture that the entire team buys into, the team will stick together [and surmount challenges].

[] A company is a self sustaining entity that expresses the hopes, dreams, vision, values and culture of the founder and leaders.”  Fred Wilson  The Management Team - While Building The Business  Jan 16, 2012  ;

Sustainability: Short Term Profits vs. Long Term Health

Fred Wilson venture capitalist and Co-Founder Union Square Ventures

Wilson discusses sustainability within the context of “[] short term profit maximization vs. long term business health []. If you want to stay in business forever, you have to focus on the long term [] [with] a business model that [ensures customer trust to keep them returning].

[][Wilson believe[s] business is about making a profit that sustains the business and enriches the owners but is not maximized in any period (month, quarter, year). [] [The] goal of a business is sustainability so that all the stakeholders (customers, employees, owners, suppliers, etc.) can rely on [it][] long term.”

When considering investments, entrepreneurs should employ survival instincts to ensure future survival.  “[][When considering whether] to disrupt their own business [] the [] choice is [not short term profit maximization but] [] survivability” even if it likely results in lower future profits. 

“[] When you construct your business model and create the [business culture], emphasize sustainability over profit maximization in everything  you create and do. [] Profits are the essence of survivability. [] But just because you need to make a profit doesn't mean you need to maximize it.  Balancing the need for a profit with [] sustain[ing] the business is the art of what [the business leader must do to win.]”  Fred Wilson, How To Be In Business Forever: A Lesson In Sustainability, Oct. 1, 2012;

Sustainability by Fred Wilson

Fred Wilson venture capitalist and Co-Founder Union Square Ventures

Wilson believes the concept of sustainability needs greater consideration today in business as “[] the focus on performance and efficiency often comes at the cost of sustainability.   

[] sustainability is all about figuring out how to be in business forever.  It is about [:] [win/win] business models that [] lead to happy long term customer and supplier relationships [;] [] avoiding the temptation to overreach [] [and] maximize near term profits at the expense of long term health [;] [] adapting [] to changing market dynamics [;] [] building a team and a culture that can survive the loss of the leader and keep going[;] [and] [] many more things like this.”  Fred Wilson, Sustainability, Nov. 21, 2011

Startup Success Often Boils Down to 2 Things

Dave McClure angel investor and Founding Partner 500 Startups 

“The ability to get real-time data and feedback is unique to the Internet. [] you can take advantage of that and build better products by collecting real-time usage metrics and by making decisions based on measured user data.

[] What’s really hard is simplifying your product and building a great user experience.

It’s important to start by building a culture of feedback and measured analytics into your process and your organization. [] start-up success often boils down to your ability to do two things: make money and make users happy.  If you can figure out how to do both of those things at scale, then you probably have an interesting business []. Luckily, you can tell if users are happy or not by measuring their behavior.”   Dave McClure, Obsess over Metrics, pg 183-184  Do More Faster  by David Cohen & Brad Feld 

Balance Entrepreneur's Strengths

Bill Gross Founder and CEO business incubator Idealab

“Design a structure around [the entrepreneur’s] strengths, and balance that by hiring complementary skills.”  Gross enjoys working on many different projects, considering himself unfocused--“[] yet for a company to succeed, it needs focus. At Idealab [they] brought people in with skills [Gross] lack[ed]. [They] devised a structure for companies to succeed by staying laser-like focused on their mission, but allowed [Gross] to be involved in multiple companies.”   Bill Gross: Here Are The 12 Lessons I've Learned In My 30 Years Of Being An Entrepreneur, Bill Gross, Chime  Dec. 15, 2011;


Lessons from Flops

Bill Gross Founder and CEO business incubator Idealab   

“[] Though 35 of Idealab's companies have gone public or been acquired, 40 have failed, and Gross says he has learned many valuable lessons from the flops. Among them: It's crucial for company founders to assemble a strong team of complementary talents — not just engineers but socially fluent networkers, logistical wizards, big thinkers. "Where there was strong leadership that came with different points of view, but with mutual trust and respect," [Gross] said, "those companies succeeded more often — it's shocking to me that that is the highest correlation" with a start-up's success.”   Bill Gross,  LA Times article Bill Gross' many business ideas by David Sarno, July 8, 2012;

Many Successful People are Deliberate about Randomness

David Cohen Founder and CEO TechStars, angel investor and former entrepreneur

 “Many [] successful people [] are very deliberate about randomness [like Brad Feld]. [] Brad has regularly held “random days” when he’ll meet anyone to talk about anything [].”  That’s how TechStars arose when Cohen met Feld on a random day.

“Being open to randomness is about more than just taking meetings [].  It’s the idea of trying something you really have no reason to try. Recognize [] that someone you meet or something that you do might ultimately be able to help you in some completely unexpected way.  If you’re not open to randomness, you may miss a huge opportunity [].”   David Cohen, Do More Faster by David Cohen & Brad Feld, copyrt 2011, pg. 109-110