My good friend Jed Yueh is the Founder and Chairman of Delphix, the amazing software company that connects, secures, virtualizes and manages data. Jed participated in the HMG Strategy CIO & CISO Executive Leadership Alliance (CELA) meeting in Menlo Park last week, and during our discussion on startup management, he spoke about legendary VC and serial innovator Marc Andreessen.
Jed cited Marc’s genuinely groundbreaking 2007 post about what really matters most to startups, and I want to share portions of that epic post with you today. I’m italicizing and boldfacing the same phrases that are italicized and boldfaced in the archived version of the post.
“You start to wonder,” Marc writes, “what correlates the most to success – team, product, or market? Or, more bluntly, what causes success? And, for those of us who are students of startup failure – what's most dangerous: a bad team, a weak product, or a poor market?
Marc then offers his own definitions of team, product and market. Marc’s thoughtful perspectives on these terms are incredibly useful. But he doesn’t stop there.
“If you ask entrepreneurs or VCs which of team, product, or market is most important, many will say team, he writes. On the other hand, if you ask engineers, many will say product.”
Then he offers his own opinion: “I'll assert that market is the most important factor in a startup's success or failure,” Marc writes. “In a great market -- a market with lots of real potential customers – the market pulls product out of the startup.”
Moreover, he states, “The market needs to be fulfilled and the market will be fulfilled, by the first viable product that comes along. The product doesn't need to be great; it just has to basically work. And, the market doesn't care how good the team is, as long as the team can produce that viable product.”
I find the clarity of Marc’s vision and the precision of his language absolutely astonishing. Marc wrote the post in 2007, but it remains supremely relevant and useful today.
I’m glad that Jed reminded us of the value of Marc’s words and insight. Marc’s unique status as a key figure in the success of Silicon Valley and the global tech culture is undisputed. A dozen years after he wrote the post, it still inspires us and provides essential lessons. Bravo Marc, and thank you Jed.