Blog May 21st, 2023

What Good Looks Like

When I think of a successful company, I imagine a team of about 10 to 20 people who earn good wages, love working together and do work they’re proud of.

I know that’s very different from what most other people in the tech space would think of. They might think of a particular industry titan or “fast-growing startup”. Those words just invoke images of injustice and poor mental health for me.

I know I’m in the minority here, and I’m trying to understand why I think this way. I don’t particularly have anything against giant corporations - I love Apple, and once upon a time could have even imagined myself working at Facebook (years ago, of course!). Is this vision of what success means what the Silicon Valley VCs have managed to inject into our minds in the tech industry, or is this intrinsically what most founders want to achieve?

I’ve had the pleasure over the past years of working with founders who had a more mainstream notion of success, as well as founders who had a similar outlook on what they wanted to achieve as I do. Working in both types of companies has been an amazing joy, but I’m still struggling to figure out why I have such strong feelings on what route leads to long-term success and happiness.

Maybe the problem here is that I’m conflating the two - my personal notion of success and happiness would be working in a small high-performing company. But that’s not what success tends to mean in the business world. Maybe I just don’t get why revenue matters that much. Why is 100 million a year in revenue supporting a 500 person team any better than making 2 million supporting a 10 person team?

I feel like I’m missing an important bit of fundamental understanding here, but I’m not quite sure what.