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Startup insights from Peter Thiel, Patrick Collison, Marc Andreessen, Joel Spolsky, and Michael Seibel

Every Sunday, we send out 1 free insight + 4 new bonus insights for premium subscribers (upgrade to Premium for $5/mo here).

Today’s insights:

  1. Peter Thiel on the difference between the best founders and “professional CEOs”

  2. Patrick Collison explains what he wishes he would’ve done differently when scaling Stripe

  3. Marc Andreessen explains why startups are heavily romanticized

  4. Stack Overflow founder Joel Spolsky explains the biggest problem with raising venture capital

  5. Former YC CEO Michael Seibel’s two pieces advice for building your MVP

Peter Thiel on the difference between the best founders and “professional CEOs”

In his book Zero To One, which is approaching its 10-year anniversary, Thiel wrote:

“We need founders. If anything, we should be more tolerant of founders who seem strange or extreme. We need unusual individuals to lead companies beyond mere incrementalism.”

And while he doesn’t believe there’s a simple magic formula for what a founder looks like, Thiel observes:

“A lot of the great companies that have been built over the last two decades were founded by people where it was somehow deeply connected to their identity - their life’s project.”

He contrasts this to Silicon Valley in the 1990s when lots of founders were replaced with professional CEOs. Thiel believes it made a big difference when it became more common for founders run the companies.

He gives the example of a 22 year old Mark Zuckerberg turning down a billion dollar acquisition from Yahoo:

“If you had a professional CEO, it would have just been: ‘I can’t believe they’re offering us a billion dollars. I’m going to try not to be too eager. We better take the money and run.’”

Patrick Collison explains what he wishes he would’ve done differently when scaling Stripe

“I think one of the most pernicious mental models you can have is that you are on some growth curve… I think a much better mental model to have is that you’re serving some market, and then there’s the percentage of the market that you’re serving. And whatever percentage you are not serving, you just haven’t built the go-to-market functions and organization that’s brought the product to those market segments.”

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