You may have read in Wired that Dustin Moskovitz, wildly successful co-founder of Facebook and Asana, thinks you shouldn't become a startup entrepreneur. But apparently that's not what he meant to say, at least not entirely.
He recently took to Medium to clarify his comments, explaining that while he does feel too many people are getting into the Silicon Valley startup game, that doesn't mean no one should start a company. You just shouldn't become an entrepreneur for the wrong reasons. And what are the wrong reasons? Moskovitz takes the opportunity to list several:
1. You like the idea of being king of the hill
Many people get into entrepreneurship because they want to be their own boss. Having control over the type of work you do isn't the worst reason to start a business, but according to Moskovitz, if you think being CEO means only having to answer to yourself, then you're in for a real shock. He quotes Evernote founder Phil Libin to illustrate his point.
"People have this vision of being the CEO of a company they started and being on top of the pyramid. Some people are motivated by that, but that's not at all what it's like. What it's really like: Everyone else is your boss--all of your employees, customers, partners, users, media are your boss. I've never had more bosses and needed to account for more people today," Livin told The Next Web conference last year. "If you want to exercise power and authority over people, join the military or go into politics. Don't be an entrepreneur."
2. The glamour
It's no secret that startups are trendy right now--the Facebook movie and HBO series pretty much settled any argument about that. But if you've bought the media hype, you might want to reconsider. On-screen versions of entrepreneurship are about as accurate a portrayal of startup life as CSI is of life in a police lab.
"You think it's glamorous. The media does a great job idolizing various entrepreneurs, crowning kings and designating godfathers of various mafias, but this is all colorful narrative. The reality is years of hard work, throughout which you usually have no idea if you're even moving in the right direction," Moskovitz cautions would-be founders.
3. You want to maximize the payout for your talent
With all the articles highlighting massive acquisitions and huge paydays for select founders, if you have a more mercenary approach to your career, it's understandable why being a startup entrepreneur might have a certain allure. You know you're smart, so why not cash in as much as possible? But this thinking is deeply flawed, in Moskovitz's view.
"The 100th engineer at Facebook made far more money than 99% of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Small slices of gigantic pies are still themselves gigantic. If you're extremely talented, you can easily identify a company with high growth potential and relatively low risk and get an aggressive compensation package from them. If you turn out to be wrong after a few years, you can try again. Within two or three tries, and likely on the first one, you'll have a great outcome and can be confident you contributed serious lasting value to the world," he explains. Instead, take the path of the founder and the most likely outcome is you'll fail completely (or end up making much less of a splash), all after years of effort.
And how about the right reasons? Check out the complete post for his views on the best motivations for starting up.
Have startup dreams? Why do you want to become a founder?