Note: this is a discussion with Loïc — I’m not that good at blogging discussions.
If you look at the past, you have to say it’s impossible to predict the future. Is MySpace the OS of the internet? Nah, not happened. Nobody really could have predicted the success of Facebook and Twitter. (Yay, Guy agrees with me. Or do I agree with him? I read The Black Swan too closely.)
BitCoin: getting away from Wall Street? Good thing. With a lot of these technologies, some is good, some is bad, but it’s still better than not having them at all.
“I don’t want any more friends.” — Not using social media to make connections, but as a marketing tool, a means to an end. steph-note: how I understand that! Guy is the person who will literally not say a word to you on a 10-hour flight if he doesn’t know you. (He says all this in a very nice way).
Guy is his brand. He loves Buffer, links everything.
steph-note: I’m seeing a difference in Guy and Loïc’s approach here. Seems that Loïc is more about the connecting than Guy who is more about content and results.
Guy’s model: earn the right to promote by providing great content. Like NPR. Other people than him do post to his account, but when he replies it’s always him. Most of his tweets go up 4 times 8 hours apart (not everyone is awake all the time, people don’t scroll back through all his tweets either).
“If you’re not pissing people off on social media, you’re probably not using it hard enough.”
“The most important thing an entrepreneur can do is make a prototype.” If you build a prototype and people like it, you may never have to create a pitch, make a forecast, a buiness plan, etc. Let’s face it, most pitches are BS. Most powerful thing you can show an investor is a prototype that is already being used.
Second piece of advice, for people outside the US: create something that is so great that the people in Silicon Valley want to copy.
“You’re so French, you just took that completely wrong!”
Third piece of advice: never ask anybody to do something you wouldn’t do (employees, customers, vendors…). steph-note: yay.
other steph-note: Guy is kinda cheeky.
Advice for finding ideas? Ideas ripped off from Sequoia Capital guy: richest vein = two guys/gals in a garage building a product they want to use. That’s very different from listening to 50+ white men in a conference telling you stuff. Create the product you want to use and hope like hell you’re not the only two people in the world who want to use it.
Guy advises more than he invests. Believes investing is more of a local phenomenon.
Intellectual property? Valuable for you if a very large company wants to buy you for your intellectual property. But otherwise… Building a model on patents is laughable. If you want to impress investors: “we have a patent pending but we don’t believe it’s a key part of our defensibility; … [insert other things that make you solid here]”. You won’t get funded with a business model which is we’re going to create technology, patent it, get copied by a large company and sue them.
Guy likes to lose money (=invest) in things he understands and uses. (Evernote, Buffer…)
Can you always identify a need for a tech startup? The answer is no. Often the need appears afterwards. Apple got that really well. Key part of entrepreneurship.
Sure, there is a demonstrated need for better batteries, and 500 companies are certainly working on it now. Not really interesting for Guy to invest or get involved in. Wants to fall in love with the thing — Google Plus. He didn’t need it but fell in love with it. Loïc: “That doesn’t make any sense, Guy ;-)”
Question to Guy: if a prospective investor asks a startup to move where the fund is, what would you do? Answer: he’d look for another investor. If you are from SF and you fall in love here in Paris, you’re not going to say “I’ll continue our relationship if you move to where I am”. Maybe a middle ground? Keep the programmers in Paris and headquarters on the West coast?
Another question on investing abroad (South Africa). Guy’s saying yes, lost opportunities. Issues: distance, doesn’t know how the country laws work, can you give options, IPO, etc. Adding speed bumps to the deal. Entrepreneur needs to make it easier for the entrepreneur to write the check. But yes, lost opportunities. The next Google could be brewing in South Africa and the American investor won’t see it.