The Man in the Arena

The Man in the Arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt’s speech in 1910

Working at a Startup vs a Big Company

Absolutely true. I can vouch for most of it. Once you work at one, you can never go back to a BigCo.

1 ) Responsibility, accountability, impact: at a startup it’s unavoidable to have lots of responsibility and accountability. There’s no doubt, too, that being at a startup will put you in a position to make a huge impact. If you do amazing work the entire company and all of its customers will benefit from it. And you’ll be loved for it. You’ll get notes from the CEO and other leaders complimenting you on how awesome your work is. On the flip side, if you make a big mistake, the whole company pays for it. But keep in mind that most startup cultures prefer agility and speed to cautiousness. It’s likely that your mistake won’t actually get you in trouble, as long as you were trying to do the right thing.

2 ) Risk: working at a startup is riskier. The startup likely isn’t profitable, and probably only has at most 12-18 months worth of money in the bank (this is called the startup’s runway). If the company does very well, the CEO will raise more money and extend the runway. You’ll still have a job and each round you’ll get a salary closer and closer to market rate (more about this later). If the startup doesn’t do well, you’ll be out of a job when the startup runs out of money. But you’ll be forewarned if the CEO is transparent — most of them are in earlier stages. A startup is risky because you’re building something from nothing. You’re doing something ridiculously hard because you believe in it and want nothing more than to see it succeed. You’re not failing even when all the odds are against you. You’re the underdog in many ways.

And by the way, if you’re a good engineer you’ll have zero issue finding another job. Zero. Every company in software, big and small, needs more good people. This trend won’t change for a long, long time, either.

3 ) Opportunities for generalists: generalists don’t do well at big companies. Big companies want you to be really, really good at that little thing you spend all your time on. Not at a startup. Although specialization is still important at most startups, there are far more opportunities at startups for generalists. I’m defining generalists as people that have interests in one field or many fields. For example, if you want to be an engineer and work on the website, the data infrastructure, and the mobile app, you’ll love a startup. Similarly, if you’re an engineer and want to get your hands dirty in marketing or recruiting or whatever, a startup is also a great place for you to learn and grow. To be totally clear, I’m not saying specialists don’t do well at startups — they do incredibly well. Generalists, however, don’t do well at large companies.

4 ) Ownership and leadership: at a big company you need to wait years and years to become a true leader with big ownership. Not at a startup. If you’re awesome you’ll be able to grow and move up in your career far faster. Mark Zuckerberg would have never been given a CEO role at a big company he started working for after college. The only way he could find himself at the top of an organization is by starting it, or in the general case by joining a super small team. Your career will be accelerated in a major way by joining a startup.

5 ) Transparency: startups usually have far more transparency than big companies. You’ll know why the CEO decided to raise a new round of funding, or why a VP of marketing was hired, or why the company decided to open a new arm of business, or how the CEO did the recent round of investment. There will always be information that isn’t shared, though, for example salaries and equity compensation, certain board meeting information, and certain sensitive investor information. But in general every other decision made about the company will be transparent. You’ll get to see how the company grows, why certain decisions were made, and how the company reacts to competitors and business plan changes. All of this will teach you about business and prepare you to do your own startup one day.

6 ) Company culture: you get to help define it. A company will be, for the most part, an extension of the founders’ personalities. But especially in the early stages you’ll have a huge impact on the culture of the company as well. You’ll be in a position to define company-wide celebratory goals, or traditions that the team rallies behind. At the end of the day a startup is just a few people in a room. If you’re one of those people your personality will rub off on everyone else and you’ll help create a company that is as much a part of you as you are of the company.

7 ) Hiring: you’ll do a lot of interviews, and you’ll be part of the decision to hire or not hire someone. You’ll interview engineers, marketers, sales people, anyone. You name the position, and you’ll probably interview any potential candidate. Even if you’re right out of school you’ll still be asked to interview. Of course, if you don’t like interviewing, you’ll only need interview potential team mates. Read: if you’re an engineer you’ll only interview other potential engineers.

8 ) Financial incentive: in general your salary will be lower than at a big company, but your equity, or ownership in the company, will be significantly bigger. Depending on the stage of the company you join, you’ll be granted anywhere from a few percentage points to a micro fraction of a point. If the company is bigger, you’ll get fewer shares and your salary will be more inline with the market rate. If the company is smaller, your salary will be smaller and your equity will be far greater. Equity has a long, long tail, meaning the first 5-10 employees get significantly more equity than all other employees that follow, with certain exceptions for executives. This is especially true for the first and second hires, though.

A little more about stock: if you join a company that is already doing incredibly well, you probably won’t get enough stock to retire unless the company turns into the next Facebook or Google. In most cases, you’ll only get retirement money if you’re one of the first five employees. Otherwise you’ll get a large down payment on a nice house, assuming the startup does well of course :). Let me say that all again: except in very rare occasions like Facebook or Google, you can’t expect to join a company that is already killing it and hope that you’ll retire on the money your equity brings.

9 ) Politics: I’ve never heard of a company with more than 50 people that didn’t have politics. Politics are a necessary evil whenever a company reaches a certain size. The point of no return is when the first middle manager is hired — or when the first job opens up that is about controlling people and nothing more. Small startups can have politics, too, but in the early days there’s generally too much camaraderie and too much daily work to worry about power or any other bullshit like that. Oh yeah, and while I’m here, unless the leaders of a startup are lame, there won’t be any bullshit. Everything is pragmatic at a startup, or at least should be.

10 ) Be a part of something bigger than you: at a startup you’re a part of something much bigger than just what your job asks of you. Sure, you need to write code, publish blog posts, whatever, but you’re doing much more than that. You’re building a company. It’s hard to describe what that feeling is like, though. Being a part of a small company is somewhat like creating a community or finding new best friends. You’re making something from nothing, with people who are in it for the same reasons you are. You’re at the apex of what might become something big, something meaningful and different. And the excitement is amazingly powerful.

Source: Alex Lod

How Google Could Eliminate the Amazon Threat to Android

How Google Could Eliminate the Amazon Threat to Android

Google is supposed to be focusing on Apple, which is currently dominating the tablet market with the iPad. Instead, it has been forced to fend off another major threat to Android – the Amazon Kindle Fire. The Kindle Fire is the biggest threat to Google, which has been trying to minimize the fragmentation of Android, and ironically, is the most popular Android tablet yet. Even so, Google has been completely locked out of the Kindle Fire ecosystem, so it probably won’t see a dime of revenue generated by the Kindle Fire.

Google is rumored to be working on a Nexus tablet to compete with the iPad, but apparently, the Nexus tablet will be an inexpensive $199 Android tablet powered by ICS which will compete with the Kindle Fire.

If Google is indeed working on such a tablet, it should stop right away.

Launching a $199 Android 4.0 tablet will not only severely impact sales of all other Android tablets and alienate its device partners like Samsung and HTC, but it will also mean Google taking a financial hit. Amazon itself is losing $10-$20 per tablet, and hopes to make money by selling Kindle content.

Here’s what Google should do instead:

Make it extremely easy to install Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on the Kindle Fire. Launch a one-click flashing tool to flash an Android 4.0 ROM on the Kindle Fire.

This would not only give it back control of the Android ecosystem, but it would also be a huge hit to Amazon, which would continue to lose money on each Kindle Fire sold with no direct way to make it back.

I ‘m not getting into the technical specifics of how it would work; I’m sure Google can figure it out.

In case it can’t be done officially, Google can always bankroll such a project or help XDA developers develop such a pure Android 4.0 ICS ROM for the Kindle Fire.

This way, Google won’t alienate its tablet hardware partners, it won’t lose money selling cheap tablets, and it can focus on its main enemy – the Apple iPad.

How to Install Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on Samsung Galaxy S 2

Install Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on Samsung Galaxy S 2 II

The guys at sammobile have released an Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich ROM (alpha) for the Samsung Galaxy S 2 II I9100.

You can download it using these links:

Download Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich ROM I9100XXKP8

To install Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich on your Samsung Galaxy S 2, you will need:

– Samsung USB Drivers (Samsung Kies)
– ODIN Client
– Stock Android 2.3.5 ROM

How to Install Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich I9100XXKP8 on Samsung Galaxy S 2 II

Install Samsung Kies from the official website – Samsung Kies

Make sure the USB drivers have been installed properly with Kies. Now close Kies and make sure Kies isn’t running in the Task Manager.

Download Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich ROM I9100XXKP8 (via XDA)

Extract all the files (ROM + Odin client) from the file (password: samfirmware.com)

Start ODIN client as administrator, and select these files:

PIT – u1_02_20110310_emmc_EXT4.pit
PDA – I9100_CODE_I9100XXKP*_CL42141_REV02_user_low_ship.tar.md5
PHONE – MODEM_I9100XXKP*_REV_02_CL1092599.tar.md5
CSC – GT-I9100-MULTI-CSC-OXAKP*.tar.md5

Also select these check boxes:

Re-Partition
Auto Reboot
F.Reset Time

On your Galaxy S 2, go to Settings > Applications > Development > USB Debugging > Enable it.

Now switch off your phone and enter download mode.

To enter download mode, hold the Volume Down + Menu Key and press the Power button.

After you see the yellow Download mode screen, just connect it to your PC via USB.

You should now see the ID:COM section turn Yellow and the message box display ADDED. If you don’t, repeat the whole process.

Click on the Start button to begin the flashing process.

In 5 minutes, your Samsung Galaxy S 2 should reboot with Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich installed.

Note: It’s not risky, but still proceed with caution. I’m not responsible if you brick your phone.

For more details, visit XDA

Maximizing Shareholder Value: The Dumbest Idea In The World

The Dumbest Idea In The World: Maximizing Shareholder Value

Excellent argument.

The real market vs the expectations market

In today’s paradoxical world of maximizing shareholder value, which Jack Welch himself has called “the dumbest idea in the world”, the situation is the reverse. CEOs and their top managers have massive incentives to focus most of their attentions on the expectations market, rather than the real job of running the company producing real products and services.

The “real market,” Martin explains, is the world in which factories are built, products are designed and produced, real products and services are bought and sold, revenues are earned, expenses are paid, and real dollars of profit show up on the bottom line. That is the world that executives control—at least to some extent.

The expectations market is the world in which shares in companies are traded between investors—in other words, the stock market. In this market, investors assess the real market activities of a company today and, on the basis of that assessment, form expectations as to how the company is likely to perform in the future. The consensus view of all investors and potential investors as to expectations of future performance shapes the stock price of the company.

“What would lead [a CEO],” asks Martin, “to do the hard, long-term work of substantially improving real-market performance when she can choose to work on simply raising expectations instead? Even if she has a performance bonus tied to real-market metrics, the size of that bonus now typically pales in comparison with the size of her stock-based incentives. Expectations are where the money is. And of course, improving real-market performance is the hardest and slowest way to increase expectations from the existing level.”

Continue reading: The Dumbest Idea In The World: Maximizing Shareholder Value