Still thinking about Steve


This post is curated by Keith Teare. It was written by Om Malik. The original is [linked here]

Nine years ago yesterday, Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, died. He is gone, but never far from my mind. I am not alone, for all the right reasons. I often think about him and his approach to products. And not to mention some great quotes and wisdom he left behind in his many interviews. I wrote The Tao of Steve when he passed. 

I leave you with another piece of wisdom from Steve:

"I have a great respect for incremental improvement, and I’ve done that sort of thing in my life, but I’ve always been attracted to the more revolutionary changes. I don’t know why. Because they’re harder. They’re much more stressful emotionally. And you usually go through a period where everybody tells you that you’ve completely failed" 

Still thinking about Steve


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om

Nine years ago yesterday, Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, died. He is gone, but never far from my mind. I am not alone, for all the right reasons. I often think about him and his approach to products. And not to mention some great quotes and wisdom he left behind in his many interviews. I wrote The Tao of Steve when he passed. 

I leave you with another piece of wisdom from Steve:

"I have a great respect for incremental improvement, and I’ve done that sort of thing in my life, but I’ve always been attracted to the more revolutionary changes. I don’t know why. Because they’re harder. They’re much more stressful emotionally. And you usually go through a period where everybody tells you that you’ve completely failed" 

Future is for kids


This post is by Om Malik from On my Om

"We don’t seem to be excited about making our country a better place for our kids," Steve Jobs, 1996. 

It was one of the most prescient interviews, but for me, this comment has always stayed with me. I am one of those people who believes that we have borrowed from the future too much and stacked the odds against the future generations.. I hope they are smarter, better, and more resilient than we were when we were younger. Their job is tougher. And it is not just for financial gains, but for their generation to find a way to thrive in a world which is never going to be the same.

September 28, 2020, San Francisco

“Our philosophy is simple…”


This post is curated by Keith Teare. It was written by M.G. Siegler. The original is [linked here]

A decade ago, Steve Jobs outlined in-app subscription rules

Photo by Gilles Lambert on Unsplash

When you’ve been at this long enough, sometimes you completely forget what you’ve written about a topic before. Or that you’ve written about it at all. Or that you were one of the first to write about it.

Also, forget “sometimes”; this happens often.

Such was the case a couple weeks ago when amidst the unfolding Apple v. Epic imbroglio, my old colleague at TechCrunch, Jason Kincaid, reminded me of a series of posts we did around the launch of Apple’s in-app subscriptions for iOS apps nearly a decade ago:

The year was 2011. In smartphone years, this may have not been the stone age, but it was the bronze age.¹ It was so long ago, in fact, that this was just a few months after Apple rebranded “iPhone OS” to “iOS”. The broader implications were just starting to come into focus…

Along those lines, on a random day in February, just after the launch of The Daily — remember The Daily?! — Apple unveiled subscriptions on the App Store. It was a big enough deal to get its own press release, but not a big enough deal to get its own press event. Again, it was all telegraphed alongside The Daily unveiling, as it was the first publication to use the service. But it was also much bigger than that. This much is clear now, almost a decade later. But re-reading those posts, it was clear back then to some of us as well.

As I wrote at the time:

Simply put: this is one of the boldest bets Apple has ever made. And it could backfire. Or it could be huge beyond belief. Either way, it’s going to be very controversial.

Both things ended up being true, of course. It ended up being huge beyond belief — it’s a key component of Apple’ second-most important business after the iPhone: services. And it was controversial at the time. And it’s even more controversial now, as it is backfiring, it would seem.

And while Apple was just focused on subscriptions with that announcement, it was pretty clear that this would underpin all in-app economics. In-app purchases had been around since 2009 with their 30% cut, but now Apple wanted to extend the 30% across the board. And that’s where we find ourselves today

But I think this announcement also betrays a sentiment Apple may wish we all had forgotten. In the words of no less than Steve Jobs:

“Our philosophy is simple — when Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30 percent share; when the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100 percent and Apple earns nothing. All we require is that, if a publisher is making a subscription offer outside of the app, the same (or better) offer be made inside the app, so that customers can easily subscribe with one-click right in the app. We believe that this innovative subscription service will provide publishers with a brand new opportunity to expand digital access to their content onto the iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, delighting both new and existing subscribers.”

Jobs was saying that Apple was totally fine with app developers keeping 100% of the revenue if they brought in the customer — Apple’s 30% cut would just be a finder’s fee, as it were. And while that’s still technically true, this is also where it feels like Apple has started to deviate from the original intent.

As we all are well aware, Apple now makes it all but impossible to subscribe to a service by any method other than their own. Forget the MFN clause, you can’t even mention that there’s another way to sign up for a service anymore.

As I read this holy scripture, my interpretation is that Jobs intended for Apple to showcase that their payment method was the best and win on those merits. These days, Apple is winning more on obfuscation. One is understandable, the other is shitty.

Apple would seem to be reading their old press releases in a very literal and narrow way. But they’re looking past intent. And while it has taken a decade, such strict adherence to a (rather arbitrary) dogma from a different world is finally catching up to them. It’s time to lead by example again, and revisit those rules.

I’ll give Jason, 9+ years ago, the last word:

Which brings us to why I find all of this so alarming. Above all, I don’t like the precedents that Apple continues to set. The App Store has existed for less than three years, and Apple has been drastically changing the rules on the fly, ruining some businesses and hampering others. It took years to reveal its developer guidelines in the first place, and, even when it actually printed some guidelines, it’s continued to arbitrarily change how it’s enforcing them.

The lyrics have changed, but the song remains the same.

¹ Adjusting for COVID years, this was pre-historic times.

² Except for the backroom hush hush deals, of course. Such deals eventually yielded a 15% second year option across the board.


“Our philosophy is simple…” was originally published in 500ish on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

“Our philosophy is simple…”


This post is by M.G. Siegler from 500ish - Medium

A decade ago, Steve Jobs outlined in-app subscription rules

Photo by Gilles Lambert on Unsplash

When you’ve been at this long enough, sometimes you completely forget what you’ve written about a topic before. Or that you’ve written about it at all. Or that you were one of the first to write about it.

Also, forget “sometimes”; this happens often.

Such was the case a couple weeks ago when amidst the unfolding Apple v. Epic imbroglio, my old colleague at TechCrunch, Jason Kincaid, reminded me of a series of posts we did around the launch of Apple’s in-app subscriptions for iOS apps nearly a decade ago:

The year was 2011. In smartphone years, this may have not been the stone age, but it was the bronze age.¹ It was so long ago, in fact, that this was just a few months after Apple rebranded “iPhone OS” to “iOS”. The broader implications were just starting to come into focus…

Along those lines, on a random day in February, just after the launch of The Daily — remember The Daily?! — Apple unveiled subscriptions on the App Store. It was a big enough deal to get its own press release, but not a big enough deal to get its own press event. Again, it was all telegraphed alongside The Daily unveiling, as it was the first publication to use the service. But it was also much bigger than that. This much is clear now, almost a decade later. But re-reading those posts, it was clear back then to some of us as well.

As I wrote at the time:

Simply put: this is one of the boldest bets Apple has ever made. And it could backfire. Or it could be huge beyond belief. Either way, it’s going to be very controversial.

Both things ended up being true, of course. It ended up being huge beyond belief — it’s a key component of Apple’ second-most important business after the iPhone: services. And it was controversial at the time. And it’s even more controversial now, as it is backfiring, it would seem.

And while Apple was just focused on subscriptions with that announcement, it was pretty clear that this would underpin all in-app economics. In-app purchases had been around since 2009 with their 30% cut, but now Apple wanted to extend the 30% across the board. And that’s where we find ourselves today

But I think this announcement also betrays a sentiment Apple may wish we all had forgotten. In the words of no less than Steve Jobs:

“Our philosophy is simple — when Apple brings a new subscriber to the app, Apple earns a 30 percent share; when the publisher brings an existing or new subscriber to the app, the publisher keeps 100 percent and Apple earns nothing. All we require is that, if a publisher is making a subscription offer outside of the app, the same (or better) offer be made inside the app, so that customers can easily subscribe with one-click right in the app. We believe that this innovative subscription service will provide publishers with a brand new opportunity to expand digital access to their content onto the iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, delighting both new and existing subscribers.”

Jobs was saying that Apple was totally fine with app developers keeping 100% of the revenue if they brought in the customer — Apple’s 30% cut would just be a finder’s fee, as it were. And while that’s still technically true, this is also where it feels like Apple has started to deviate from the original intent.

As we all are well aware, Apple now makes it all but impossible to subscribe to a service by any method other than their own. Forget the MFN clause, you can’t even mention that there’s another way to sign up for a service anymore.

As I read this holy scripture, my interpretation is that Jobs intended for Apple to showcase that their payment method was the best and win on those merits. These days, Apple is winning more on obfuscation. One is understandable, the other is shitty.

Apple would seem to be reading their old press releases in a very literal and narrow way. But they’re looking past intent. And while it has taken a decade, such strict adherence to a (rather arbitrary) dogma from a different world is finally catching up to them. It’s time to lead by example again, and revisit those rules.

I’ll give Jason, 9+ years ago, the last word:

Which brings us to why I find all of this so alarming. Above all, I don’t like the precedents that Apple continues to set. The App Store has existed for less than three years, and Apple has been drastically changing the rules on the fly, ruining some businesses and hampering others. It took years to reveal its developer guidelines in the first place, and, even when it actually printed some guidelines, it’s continued to arbitrarily change how it’s enforcing them.

The lyrics have changed, but the song remains the same.

¹ Adjusting for COVID years, this was pre-historic times.

² Except for the backroom hush hush deals, of course. Such deals eventually yielded a 15% second year option across the board.


“Our philosophy is simple…” was originally published in 500ish on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Interpersonal Computing


This post is by M.G. Siegler from 500ish - Medium

When Steve Jobs predicted our predicament 30 years ago…

“We also can’t change our geographic organization very fast. As a matter of fact, even slower than the management one — we can’t be moving people around the country every week. But we can change an electronic organization — *snaps* — like that. And what’s starting to happen is as we start to link these computers together with sophisticated networks and great user interfaces, we’re starting to be able to create clusters of people working on a common task — literally in 15 minutes worth of set up. And these 15 people can work together extremely efficienctly no matter where they are geographically, and no matter who they work for hierarchically. And these organizations can live for as long as they’re needed and then vanish. And we’re finding that we can reorganize our companies electronically very rapidly. And that’s the only type of organization that can begin to keep pace with the changing business conditions.”

This isn’t a quote from last week, or last month, as we all deal with the realities of remote work in our unfortunate epidemic. This is a quote from — checks date — 30 years ago. And no less than Steve Jobs said it.

He was making the case for NeXT, the company he founded after his initial exit from Apple. While Apple made personal computers, he argued that NeXT was making “interpersonal computers” — that is, computers which were networked together in a way to allow people to collaborate.¹ Personal computers were about you interacting with the machine. Interpersonal computers were about you interacting with others via the machine.

This was a time before most people knew what the internet was — let alone were using it — of course. And while that network made the high level of Jobs’ vision possible years ago, the specifics of what he’s talking about with remote work and organizations are only now being fully realized.

The truth is that I actually saved this clip a year and a half ago, when Garry Tan shared it on Twitter.² At the time, it seemed to capture what many people were seeing taking off with regard to remote work. Fast forward to 2020 and this is no longer a trend, it’s reality.

“And I believe that this collaborative model has existed in higher education for a long time. But we’re starting to see it applied into the commercial world as well. And this is going to be the third major revolution that these desktop computers provide. Is revolutionizing human-to-human communication and group work. We call it ‘interpersonal computing’.”

Fascinating that Jobs calls out this trend for desktop computers specifically. This was, of course, long before he and Apple revolutionized computing with the iPhone. And yet the desktop (and well, laptop) machines are still key to this remote work reality even now. The tools have gotten infinitely better — Slack, Zoom, etc — but we’re still largely sitting at desks, using them during the work day. It’s just crazy how prescient this is for where we are right now.³

¹ Sort of crazy to look back at how connected the NeXT machines were to the macOS we still use today!

² I was reminded of it when Jon Erlichmen shared it yesterday, and found my old note to use it for a post about remote work. Better late than never!

³ Yes, even if he wasn’t alone with the concept — he was the master communicator of such things.


Interpersonal Computing was originally published in 500ish on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

The App Store Commandments


This post is by M.G. Siegler from 500ish - Medium

It’s time for Apple to re-write and re-think the App Store rules. Because it’s 2020, not 2010.

When the Lord had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, he gave Steve Jobs the two tablets of the App Store Testimony, tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.

Given Apple’s recent statements and more importantly, their recent actions, you’d think the above actually happened. That God himself wrote the App Store rules and guidelines and handed them down to Steve Jobs, who in turn spread the knowledge throughout the land of Apple, never to be questioned.

On Twitter, I used The Constitution analogy. I think it works too — perhaps even better, because regardless of your religious beliefs, everyone acknowledges that the documents which helped form our nation were written by human beings. And they were written in a very different time for a very different world. We still largely hold these as truths, but they’ve been amended over time. And many would suggest they should be amended further. And they will be, over time.

But it takes a lot of time because, well, politics. These are the laws that guide and govern our nation. As a private enterprise, Apple can unilaterally change their own rules — those of the App Store — as they wish. And I wish they would. Because the increasingly arbitrary handling and tweaking of their rules without acknowledging some other, obvious truths is ripping their community apart.

Again, the App Store rules are not written in stone. And even if they were, Apple should feel free to cast them down from the mountaintop, shattering them into a million pieces, to come up with new ones. They were written in a different time. For a different world.

Yes, the App Store is only twelve years old. In the grand scheme of things, that is nothing. But in the age of technology, that’s ancient history. For all the ruckus Hey, a new email service, is causing this week, it’s fun to look back at the press release announcing the “iPhone 2.0 Software Beta”, which highlights such groundbreaking functionality as:

In addition to these new iPhone network and security features, the beta iPhone 2.0 software provides several new Mail features such as the ability to view PowerPoint attachments, in addition to Word and Excel, as well as the ability to mass delete and move email messages.

Move email messages! On your phone! I joke, but this was a big deal at the time. As was the addition of Exchange. That’s mobile in 2008 in a nutshell. When the App Store launched, there were no in-app payments. Netflix was still primarily delivering DVDs by mail. Spotify launched later that year.

Without question, Apple has helped these and thousands of other companies flourish thanks to the App Store. Businesses have been created out of the cloud in thin air. But Apple has flourished too.

“Who knows? Maybe it’ll be a billion-dollar marketplace at some point in time,” Jobs said in 2008. How about a half-trillion-dollar marketplace in 2019? He was off by two orders of magnitude and then some, and counting…

And where did the 70/30 split come from? It wasn’t, as it turns out, handed down from up high:

The 70–30 split, are the economics of this working out the way that you had said when we last spoke, which is that you might make some money, but you don’t expect it to be a big source of profits?

Yeah. It’s just like iTunes.

Even with the huge popularity of this, you don’t…

No. It costs money to run it. Those free apps cost money to store and to deliver wirelessly. The paid apps cost money, too. They have to pay for some of the free apps. We don’t expect this to be a big profit generator. We expect it to add value to the iPhone. We’ll sell more iPhones because of it.

It’s now, of course, a key pillar of Apple’s all-important services business.

And, as cynical as it may sound, that may indeed be the answer as to why Apple doesn’t want to change the rules. The App Store is so important now, that it would fundamentally alter a big part of their business equation.

But again, go back to the beginning. To Steve Jobs. The goal was never for the App Store to be a massive business for Apple. It’s great that it has become that. But it was to move iPhones. The rules should be revisited and rewritten to acknowledge these new goals and this new world.

There is so much back-and-forth about the Hey situation, the Spotify situation, the Netflix situation, Rakuten, Epic Games, Facebook, the list goes on and it will continue to go on. Until Apple re-writes the App Store rules from a decade ago for our 2020 reality. And if they don’t, they may be forced to, regardless, by the folks that are beholden to the aforementioned Constitution.

To beat the dead horse: the App Store guidelines and policies were created for the world as it was a decade ago. The world is not as it was a decade ago. Apple should create new guidelines and policies for the world as it is now. It may not be that easy, but it really is that simple.

Thou shalt?


The App Store Commandments was originally published in 500ish on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Apple & Steve Jobs defined mobile in the 2010s

Chetan Sharma, a very influential mobile industry analyst every year polls the industry insiders including leaders of some of the biggest and most important networking and telecom companies. He seeks their opinions on the year that was, and what to expect in the year to come.

“Over the course of the decade, the number of connections more than doubled, smartphones jumped 20x, and cellular data traffic grew 333,000 times,” Sharma points out in his report. “In 2020, 44 Zettabytes of digital information will be created. Over 420 Exabytes of mobile data traffic (which btw will grow 15x+ in the next 5 years).”

Person of the year: Steve Jobs. Despite being only a small part of the decade, his vision and his product roadmap defined the decade and was the overwhelming favorite for the person of the decade (only executives who have been chosen person of the year in prediction

Continue reading “Apple & Steve Jobs defined mobile in the 2010s”

Steve Jobs on Jony Ive

The difference that Jony has made, not only at Apple but in the world, is huge. He is a wickedly intelligent person in allways. He understands business concepts, marketing concepts. He picks stuffup just like that..click. He understands what we do at our core better than anyone. If I had a spiritual partner at Apple, its Jony. Jony and I think up most of the products together and then pull others in and say, “Hey, what do you think about this?” He gets the big picture as well as the most infinitesimal details about each product. And he understands that Apple is a product company. He’s not just a designer. That’s why he works directly for me. He has more operational power than anyone else at Apple except me. There’s no one who can tell him what to do, or to butt out. That’s the way I set Continue reading “Steve Jobs on Jony Ive”

Lee Iacocca & Steve Jobs had in common

Lee Iacocca, the auto industry legend who was credited with the launch of the Ford Mustang and the revival of a moribund and defunct Chrysler, passed away this week. It prompted me to read as much as I could about him and learn about his methods. I mean, what better way to pay homage to a guy known for his maverick management? Continue reading “Lee Iacocca & Steve Jobs had in common”

So what can Apple do next?

Rollable Television. Foldable Television. MicroLED TVs. Modular TV. Big TV. Bigger and Bigger TV. It is CES time, and it doesn’t surprise me that all the major consumer electronics players are talking about televisions (amongst other things.) I mean what can bring more oohs-and-aahs than television screens with high definition video in a dark room filled with media needing to file something — anything. But the question is for how long we will need this big screen? And what will Apple do about it?

I am always amazed by this display of displays — mostly because I am a television heretic. In 2006, when we launched NewTeeVee, I cut the cord and went off linear television. Ten years later, I decided that the big screen in my apartment that hadn’t been turned on for about four years needed to go to the recycling plant.

Over the past five years,

Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash

Continue reading “So what can Apple do next?”

Don’t Believe Your Own B.S.


This post is by NFX from Stories by NFX on Medium

by Pete Flint, NFX (nfx.com@NFX)

In Silicon Valley, we worship the idea of superpowers — and for good reason. When you meet an outstanding Founder it’s like coming face-to-face with a true force of nature. They see what others do not. Their reality is not, nor ever has been, realistic in the ordinary world.

These “reality distortion fields” are necessary for the extreme sport of startups. I certainly found this to be true when I was building and scaling Trulia. How else can you sell a product to customers that doesn’t even exist yet? A future revenue plan for investors that is more pipe-dream than pipeline? An unbeatable opportunity to prospective employees when your odds of winning are 1 in a million? Proof points:

  • Steve Jobs was so resolute in his vision for Apple I that he convinced a Mountain View store owner to purchase 50 of the computers even though he didn’t have the money to produce them. When he finally found a way and delivered the “assembled” computers, they not only required additional components and coding from the buyer, but also lacked a case — so they looked more like motherboards. When the store owner was reluctant to accept the machines, Jobs stared him down and persuaded him to take the leap.
  • Diane Greene saw a huge opportunity that most others were blind to when as Founder/CEO of VMWare. At a gathering with several prominent startup Founders of the dot-com boom like Pets.com, Webvan, and Toys.com, Greene shared her vision for virtualization software. The Founders reflexively shot back that “software was dead”, not realizing that virtualization software would be the very innovation to catapult cloud-based computing. The ability to see around corners is precisely what makes reality distortion fields so powerful.
  • Drew Houston stuck to his seemingly unreasonable belief that Dropbox would work, even after his idol told him it would fail. When Steve Jobs offered to acquire Dropbox, Houston turned down the offer. In response, Jobs told Houston that Apple would crush Dropbox. Most would have succumbed to Steve Jobs, but not Houston. Dropbox rose to industry dominance, IPO’d, and now has a $10 billion market cap.

But here’s the danger: superpowers cut both ways. They may spur meteoric growth, but without enough self-awareness, they can just as easily lead to a startup’s undoing. From Uber to Zenefits, we’ve seen this play out time and again. You might have the ability to see the future, but if you don’t learn to see beyond your own bullshit, you can destroy or impair the very company you’ve worked so hard to build.

This essay was originally posted on nfx.com. This is just a sample. Click here for the full essay.

About Pete Flint:
Pete is the founder and former Chairman and CEO of
Trulia. In 2015 Pete merged Trulia with Zillow in a transaction which valued Trulia at $3.5BN, after which he served on the Zillow Group board. Previously he was part of the founding team of lastminute.com which was acquired for over $1.1BN. Today, he is a Managing Partner at NFX. Follow Pete on Twitter here.

About NFX:
NFX is a seed and series A venture firm based in San Francisco. Founded by entrepreneurs who built 10 companies with more than $10 billion in exits across multiple industries and geographies, NFX is transforming how true innovators are funded.
Follow us on Twitter

Don’t Believe Your Own B.S.


This post is by NFX from Stories by NFX on Medium

by Pete Flint, NFX (nfx.com@NFX)

In Silicon Valley, we worship the idea of superpowers — and for good reason. When you meet an outstanding Founder it’s like coming face-to-face with a true force of nature. They see what others do not. Their reality is not, nor ever has been, realistic in the ordinary world.

These “reality distortion fields” are necessary for the extreme sport of startups. I certainly found this to be true when I was building and scaling Trulia. How else can you sell a product to customers that doesn’t even exist yet? A future revenue plan for investors that is more pipe-dream than pipeline? An unbeatable opportunity to prospective employees when your odds of winning are 1 in a million? Proof points:

  • Steve Jobs was so resolute in his vision for Apple I that he convinced a Mountain View store owner to purchase 50 of the computers even though he didn’t have the money to produce them. When he finally found a way and delivered the “assembled” computers, they not only required additional components and coding from the buyer, but also lacked a case — so they looked more like motherboards. When the store owner was reluctant to accept the machines, Jobs stared him down and persuaded him to take the leap.
  • Diane Greene saw a huge opportunity that most others were blind to when as Founder/CEO of VMWare. At a gathering with several prominent startup Founders of the dot-com boom like Pets.com, Webvan, and Toys.com, Greene shared her vision for virtualization software. The Founders reflexively shot back that “software was dead”, not realizing that virtualization software would be the very innovation to catapult cloud-based computing. The ability to see around corners is precisely what makes reality distortion fields so powerful.
  • Drew Houston stuck to his seemingly unreasonable belief that Dropbox would work, even after his idol told him it would fail. When Steve Jobs offered to acquire Dropbox, Houston turned down the offer. In response, Jobs told Houston that Apple would crush Dropbox. Most would have succumbed to Steve Jobs, but not Houston. Dropbox rose to industry dominance, IPO’d, and now has a $10 billion market cap.

But here’s the danger: superpowers cut both ways. They may spur meteoric growth, but without enough self-awareness, they can just as easily lead to a startup’s undoing. From Uber to Zenefits, we’ve seen this play out time and again. You might have the ability to see the future, but if you don’t learn to see beyond your own bullshit, you can destroy or impair the very company you’ve worked so hard to build.

This essay was originally posted on nfx.com. This is just a sample. Click here for the full essay.

About Pete Flint:
Pete is the founder and former Chairman and CEO of
Trulia. In 2015 Pete merged Trulia with Zillow in a transaction which valued Trulia at $3.5BN, after which he served on the Zillow Group board. Previously he was part of the founding team of lastminute.com which was acquired for over $1.1BN. Today, he is a Managing Partner at NFX. Follow Pete on Twitter here.

About NFX:
NFX is a seed and series A venture firm based in San Francisco. Founded by entrepreneurs who built 10 companies with more than $10 billion in exits across multiple industries and geographies, NFX is transforming how true innovators are funded.
Follow us on Twitter

Don’t Believe Your Own B.S.


This post is by NFX from Stories by NFX on Medium

by Pete Flint, NFX (nfx.com@NFX)

In Silicon Valley, we worship the idea of superpowers — and for good reason. When you meet an outstanding Founder it’s like coming face-to-face with a true force of nature. They see what others do not. Their reality is not, nor ever has been, realistic in the ordinary world.

These “reality distortion fields” are necessary for the extreme sport of startups. I certainly found this to be true when I was building and scaling Trulia. How else can you sell a product to customers that doesn’t even exist yet? A future revenue plan for investors that is more pipe-dream than pipeline? An unbeatable opportunity to prospective employees when your odds of winning are 1 in a million? Proof points:

  • Steve Jobs was so resolute in his vision for Apple I that he convinced a Mountain View store owner to purchase 50 of the computers even though he didn’t have the money to produce them. When he finally found a way and delivered the “assembled” computers, they not only required additional components and coding from the buyer, but also lacked a case — so they looked more like motherboards. When the store owner was reluctant to accept the machines, Jobs stared him down and persuaded him to take the leap.
  • Diane Greene saw a huge opportunity that most others were blind to when as Founder/CEO of VMWare. At a gathering with several prominent startup Founders of the dot-com boom like Pets.com, Webvan, and Toys.com, Greene shared her vision for virtualization software. The Founders reflexively shot back that “software was dead”, not realizing that virtualization software would be the very innovation to catapult cloud-based computing. The ability to see around corners is precisely what makes reality distortion fields so powerful.
  • Drew Houston stuck to his seemingly unreasonable belief that Dropbox would work, even after his idol told him it would fail. When Steve Jobs offered to acquire Dropbox, Houston turned down the offer. In response, Jobs told Houston that Apple would crush Dropbox. Most would have succumbed to Steve Jobs, but not Houston. Dropbox rose to industry dominance, IPO’d, and now has a $10 billion market cap.

But here’s the danger: superpowers cut both ways. They may spur meteoric growth, but without enough self-awareness, they can just as easily lead to a startup’s undoing. From Uber to Zenefits, we’ve seen this play out time and again. You might have the ability to see the future, but if you don’t learn to see beyond your own bullshit, you can destroy or impair the very company you’ve worked so hard to build.

This essay was originally posted on nfx.com. This is just a sample. Click here for the full essay.

About Pete Flint:
Pete is the founder and former Chairman and CEO of
Trulia. In 2015 Pete merged Trulia with Zillow in a transaction which valued Trulia at $3.5BN, after which he served on the Zillow Group board. Previously he was part of the founding team of lastminute.com which was acquired for over $1.1BN. Today, he is a Managing Partner at NFX. Follow Pete on Twitter here.

About NFX:
NFX is a seed and series A venture firm based in San Francisco. Founded by entrepreneurs who built 10 companies with more than $10 billion in exits across multiple industries and geographies, NFX is transforming how true innovators are funded.
Follow us on Twitter

Don’t Believe Your Own B.S.


This post is by NFX from Stories by NFX on Medium

by Pete Flint, NFX (nfx.com@NFX)

In Silicon Valley, we worship the idea of superpowers — and for good reason. When you meet an outstanding Founder it’s like coming face-to-face with a true force of nature. They see what others do not. Their reality is not, nor ever has been, realistic in the ordinary world.

These “reality distortion fields” are necessary for the extreme sport of startups. I certainly found this to be true when I was building and scaling Trulia. How else can you sell a product to customers that doesn’t even exist yet? A future revenue plan for investors that is more pipe-dream than pipeline? An unbeatable opportunity to prospective employees when your odds of winning are 1 in a million? Proof points:

  • Steve Jobs was so resolute in his vision for Apple I that he convinced a Mountain View store owner to purchase 50 of the computers even though he didn’t have the money to produce them. When he finally found a way and delivered the “assembled” computers, they not only required additional components and coding from the buyer, but also lacked a case — so they looked more like motherboards. When the store owner was reluctant to accept the machines, Jobs stared him down and persuaded him to take the leap.
  • Diane Greene saw a huge opportunity that most others were blind to when as Founder/CEO of VMWare. At a gathering with several prominent startup Founders of the dot-com boom like Pets.com, Webvan, and Toys.com, Greene shared Continue reading “Don’t Believe Your Own B.S.”

Don’t Believe Your Own B.S.


This post is by NFX from Stories by NFX on Medium

by Pete Flint, NFX (nfx.com@NFX)

In Silicon Valley, we worship the idea of superpowers — and for good reason. When you meet an outstanding Founder it’s like coming face-to-face with a true force of nature. They see what others do not. Their reality is not, nor ever has been, realistic in the ordinary world.

These “reality distortion fields” are necessary for the extreme sport of startups. I certainly found this to be true when I was building and scaling Trulia. How else can you sell a product to customers that doesn’t even exist yet? A future revenue plan for investors that is more pipe-dream than pipeline? An unbeatable opportunity to prospective employees when your odds of winning are 1 in a million? Proof points:

  • Steve Jobs was so resolute in his vision for Apple I that he convinced a Mountain View store owner to purchase 50 of the computers even though he didn’t have the money to produce them. When he finally found a way and delivered the “assembled” computers, they not only required additional components and coding from the buyer, but also lacked a case — so they looked more like motherboards. When the store owner was reluctant to accept the machines, Jobs stared him down and persuaded him to take the leap.
  • Diane Greene saw a huge opportunity that most others were blind to when as Founder/CEO of VMWare. At a gathering with several prominent startup Founders of the dot-com boom like Pets.com, Webvan, and Toys.com, Greene shared her vision for virtualization software. The Founders reflexively shot back that “software was dead”, not realizing that virtualization software would be the very innovation to catapult cloud-based computing. The ability to see around corners is precisely what makes reality distortion fields so powerful.
  • Drew Houston stuck to his seemingly unreasonable belief that Dropbox would work, even after his idol told him it would fail. When Steve Jobs offered to acquire Dropbox, Houston turned down the offer. In response, Jobs told Houston that Apple would crush Dropbox. Most would have succumbed to Steve Jobs, but not Houston. Dropbox rose to industry dominance, IPO’d, and now has a $10 billion market cap.

But here’s the danger: superpowers cut both ways. They may spur meteoric growth, but without enough self-awareness, they can just as easily lead to a startup’s undoing. From Uber to Zenefits, we’ve seen this play out time and again. You might have the ability to see the future, but if you don’t learn to see beyond your own bullshit, you can destroy or impair the very company you’ve worked so hard to build.

This essay was originally posted on nfx.com. This is just a sample. Click here for the full essay.

About Pete Flint:
Pete is the founder and former Chairman and CEO of
Trulia. In 2015 Pete merged Trulia with Zillow in a transaction which valued Trulia at $3.5BN, after which he served on the Zillow Group board. Previously he was part of the founding team of lastminute.com which was acquired for over $1.1BN. Today, he is a Managing Partner at NFX. Follow Pete on Twitter here.

About NFX:
NFX is a seed and series A venture firm based in San Francisco. Founded by entrepreneurs who built 10 companies with more than $10 billion in exits across multiple industries and geographies, NFX is transforming how true innovators are funded.
Follow us on Twitter

Don’t Believe Your Own B.S.


This post is by NFX from Stories by NFX on Medium

by Pete Flint, NFX (nfx.com@NFX)

In Silicon Valley, we worship the idea of superpowers — and for good reason. When you meet an outstanding Founder it’s like coming face-to-face with a true force of nature. They see what others do not. Their reality is not, nor ever has been, realistic in the ordinary world.

These “reality distortion fields” are necessary for the extreme sport of startups. I certainly found this to be true when I was building and scaling Trulia. How else can you sell a product to customers that doesn’t even exist yet? A future revenue plan for investors that is more pipe-dream than pipeline? An unbeatable opportunity to prospective employees when your odds of winning are 1 in a million? Proof points:

  • Steve Jobs was so resolute in his vision for Apple I that he convinced a Mountain View store owner to purchase 50 of the computers even though he didn’t have the money to produce them. When he finally found a way and delivered the “assembled” computers, they not only required additional components and coding from the buyer, but also lacked a case — so they looked more like motherboards. When the store owner was reluctant to accept the machines, Jobs stared him down and persuaded him to take the leap.
  • Diane Greene saw a huge opportunity that most others were blind to when as Founder/CEO of VMWare. At a gathering with several prominent startup Founders of the dot-com boom like Pets.com, Webvan, and Toys.com, Greene shared her vision for virtualization software. The Founders reflexively shot back that “software was dead”, not realizing that virtualization software would be the very innovation to catapult cloud-based computing. The ability to see around corners is precisely what makes reality distortion fields so powerful.
  • Drew Houston stuck to his seemingly unreasonable belief that Dropbox would work, even after his idol told him it would fail. When Steve Jobs offered to acquire Dropbox, Houston turned down the offer. In response, Jobs told Houston that Apple would crush Dropbox. Most would have succumbed to Steve Jobs, but not Houston. Dropbox rose to industry dominance, IPO’d, and now has a $10 billion market cap.

But here’s the danger: superpowers cut both ways. They may spur meteoric growth, but without enough self-awareness, they can just as easily lead to a startup’s undoing. From Uber to Zenefits, we’ve seen this play out time and again. You might have the ability to see the future, but if you don’t learn to see beyond your own bullshit, you can destroy or impair the very company you’ve worked so hard to build.

This essay was originally posted on nfx.com. This is just a sample. Click here for the full essay.

About Pete Flint:
Pete is the founder and former Chairman and CEO of
Trulia. In 2015 Pete merged Trulia with Zillow in a transaction which valued Trulia at $3.5BN, after which he served on the Zillow Group board. Previously he was part of the founding team of lastminute.com which was acquired for over $1.1BN. Today, he is a Managing Partner at NFX. Follow Pete on Twitter here.

About NFX:
NFX is a seed and series A venture firm based in San Francisco. Founded by entrepreneurs who built 10 companies with more than $10 billion in exits across multiple industries and geographies, NFX is transforming how true innovators are funded.
Follow us on Twitter

Don’t trust investors asking how you’ll exit to Apple, says Apple CEO

 If you’re a budding entrepreneur and the VC you’re pitching switches gears and asks you about your exit strategy that’s your cue to get up and leave, says Apple CEO Tim Cook. Read More

Don’t trust investors asking how you’ll exit to Apple, says Apple CEO

 If you’re a budding entrepreneur and the VC you’re pitching switches gears and asks you about your exit strategy that’s your cue to get up and leave, says Apple CEO Tim Cook. Read More

Don’t trust investors asking how you’ll exit to Apple, says Apple CEO

 If you’re a budding entrepreneur and the VC you’re pitching switches gears and asks you about your exit strategy that’s your cue to get up and leave, says Apple CEO Tim Cook. Read More