The best companies start out with ideas that don’t sound very good. They start out as projects, and in fact sometimes they sound so inconsequential the founders wouldn’t let themselves work on them if they had to defend them as a company. Google and Yahoo started as grad students’ projects. Facebook was a project Zuckerberg built while he was a sophomore in college. Twitter was a side project that started with a single engineer inside a company doing something totally different. Airbnb was a side project to make some money to afford rent. They all became companies later.
I love this essay. It’s crisp and juicy.
To me it captures well the mixture of a few different aspects of things we work on:
- Seriousness vs. playfulness
- Pure vs. complicated
Companies tend to be low passion, serious, and complicated. Projects tend to be high passion, playful, and pure.
So the lesson I get from the essay is to keep that mix for as long as you can, and only take on the extra baggage of the company when it’s absolutely necessary.
If you do it too quickly you’ll kill either the passion for, or the forward momentum of, the idea.