Tag Archives: Fred Wilson

10 Characteristics of a Great Company

Fred Wilson shared these as he visited Etsy yesterday

So here are the ten characteristics that I jotted down on my blackberry on the subway. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list. It is the ten traits that came to me on a 15 minute subway ride. And it is also true that great companies don’t hit every single one of these traits. But they hit most of them. And some do hit all of them.

So with that caveat, here is my list of ten traits I see in great companies. This is aimed at web/tech companies but I believe it can and should be applicable to all companies.

1 ) Great companies are constantly innovating and delighting their customers/users with new products and services.
2 ) Great companies are built to last and be independent and sustainable. Great companies don’t sell out.
3 ) Great companies make lots of money but leave even more money on the table for their users and partners.
4 ) Great companies don’t look elsewhere for ideas. They develop their ideas internally and are copied by others.
5 ) Great companies infect their users/customers with their brand. They turn their users and customers into marketing/sales forces.
6 ) Great companies are led by entrepreneurs who own a meaningful piece of the business. As such, they make decisions based on long term business needs and objectives not short term goals.
7 ) Great companies have a global mindset. They treat every person in the world as a potential customer/user.
8 ) Great companies are attempting to change the world in addition to making money.
9 ) Great companies are not reliant on any one person to deliver their value proposition.
10 ) Great companies put the customer/user first above any other priority.


Last week Nathan Coloquhoun wrote this on conferences.

I’m tired of big monster churches, leaders and organizations not caring about the small and insignificant.

It’s everywhere. This conference has been going on in the States for the last few years. It’s called Q. It’s a play off the TED conferences, and generally I think it’s a good idea (we may or may not have something up our sleeve that is in similar taste). Except, I’m annoyed because it is invite only. I’m annoyed because from what I can tell it costs $625 to attend (Last year was $825 after early bird deadline). I’m annoyed because only the “remarkable leaders” will be there. There is so many things that annoy me about this type of idea that I want to get out of conference organizing all together.

I was going to reply but I didn’t have the time yet.  I was on FriendFeed today and I saw this post by Fred Wilson and he did a really good job of articulating what I was thinking.

I don’t go to TED and never have and don’t think I ever will. I don’t go to Demo or Techcrunch 50 or any of those kinds of events either.

I spent the weekend in Vegas with a bunch of people who go to the Lobby conference every year, including its organizer David Hornik. David was trying to convince me to come this year, but I told him the idea of a ten hour flight to Hawaii was not attractive to me. I suggested to David if he did it in a place where us east coasters could get to a bit easier, I might consider it.

Travel is a hassle. Its time consuming and gets in the way of doing other more productive things. I’ll gladly travel to the west coast or europe to visit our portfolio companies and meet with new investment opportunities.

But the idea of travel to get together with the same old group, the tech biz insider club, doesn’t appeal to me at all.

I do like attending events that happen in NYC, like I am doing tomorrow morning. I am speaking at Federated Media’s Conversational Marketing Summit. I’ll spend the morning there, get some networking in, and be back in my office for our monday meeting in the afternoon. That’s how I like to do conferences, short, sweet, and easy. I think our industry places too much emphasis on conferences in an era where there are amazing tools to congregate online and find like minded people. I am not suggesting that face to face meetings aren’t important, they are critical. But schmoozefests at fancy resorts aren’t the kinds of face to face meetings I want to do.

And ‘by invitation only’ or high priced events are particularly bad in my mind. The most interesting people you can meet are the outsiders, the up and comers, and the hackers who can’t afford to lay out $4000 to attend an event and are never going to get an invite to an event where you have to know somebody or "be somebody" to get in. So I avoid those most of all.

Back in the 90s, I was unknown to the powers that be and could not get into TED. I don’t forget that and that’s why I’ll never go to it. I don’t want to play that game. If I ever got an invite to Davos or Sun Valley, I’d have a really hard time saying yes. These power parties are not for me.

Update: Bill Kinnon ripped into Q back in 2007

My thoughts are similar to Fred Wilson’s.  I am not a big fan of most conferences.  The travel is a pain when you live in Saskatoon (Saskatoon –> Winnipeg –> Toronto or even worse Saskatoon –> Calgary –> Winnipeg –> Toronto) and want to head east.  It can be a pain in the butt and is a big chunk away from family that isn’t always necessary.  Wendy gave me tickets to Jared Diamond last year in Saskatoon.  It was a fun evening but all he did was talk about Collapse which I guarantee you about 90% of the 1500 people in attendance had already read.  While it was a fun escape and evening, I wouldn’t have driven to hear that talk but in the past that is what I have gotten.  20 minute commercials for a recent book.   I don’t see Q as that much different and on top of that, whoever is behind it should be ashamed of ripping off TED that blatantly. 

If you want me to come to your conference: give me speakers who aren’t out to sell something, give me an affordable venue, make sure some friends are going to be there, and don’t price it as a for profit event.  If you have to pay people $20,000 to speak, I don’t want to hear them.  Give me Soularize, give me Cultivate Gathering, give me Evolving Church.  Don’t give me Q.  I’ve already read the book and downloaded the videos off of the TED website.