(Human) Investment

Silicon Valley is full of myth, and one of them is around persistence.

These scrappy entrepreneurs who were facing low initial traction or success, and who, with their smarts and persistence, succeeded against all odds. AirBnB, the website for short term rental, now valued in billions of dollars, is the symbol of persistence among 2011 entrepreneurs. “Be a cockroach” as they say.

I have thought numerous times about this concept of “being a cockroach” and it seemed obvious to me in many ways. With the hindsight of my most recent experience, I realize that it is not that common, and it is pretty remarkable to find that tenacity for a pre-investment Company.

Why isn’t that common? Because it would be very easy for at least one of the founders to question the idea a few months in when they see no traction in sight. How can they be so sure after all… After a while (nine months, a year, etc…), even scrappy entrepreneurs can reasonably decide to move on or to “pivot”, especially when they are not accountable in front of other shareholders….

Today, I believe that beyond the faith of the founders in their concept, the main reason why they kept at it and did all kinds of crazy stuff to sustain themselves, is their relationship as friends which changed the whole dynamic. They were having fun working among friends on a concept they cared about. What can replace that ?

As I continue meeting potential cofounders who “like me” but “want me to come back when I have an idea they like more”, I think about the AirBnB founders, and wonder: how long would they have lasted if they perceived relationships between founders like that?

My guess is that AirBnB would not be a billion dollar Company today…

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