I’m spending the next two days at TIECon 2008, which is an Entrepreneurs conference that happens once a year in Silicon Valley.
I had the pleasure of sitting through a great keynote address, by Peter Thiel (former CEO of Paypal, and the venture capitalist behind Facebook). The jist of his talk was really that entrepreneurs have to take the road less traveled. Most of the time people are not going to agree with you and you need to have a bit of stubbornness and drive in order to be successful. An interesting point he made was that that contrarian views are often what the successful businesses are built on. And to further strengthen that point, he used the analogy that if the consensus view is right 80% of the time – the value of an idea that parallels the consensus view is worth relatively little, however if the contrarian view turns out to be correct – it has a multiple of far, far greater than 4x the consensus – which really means that by and large, the contrarian business views are then usually a good bet.
He made an interesting comment that the jury was still out on Facebook – which is a very practical view he is taking. He earned a lot of respect from me with that comment, because many other VC’s would be be a lot more comfortable with their investment in Facebook being a success – and it seems that he still approaching the investment with some trepidation, even given it’s recent success. He realizes that here is a very long road ahead still, for Facebook. Very pragmatic and smart on his part.
Ron Conway (legendary SV Angel investor) & Bill Campbell (Chairman of Intuit) took the stage next for the second part of the keynote. Bill is highly recognized as a coach of senior executives, and young CEO’s. He had a lot of anecdotes to share on his experiences with this. He is also not a consensus person – so he looks to the best ideas – regardless of consensus – this really has been a common theme in the talks this morning. He also said that you cannot be contrarian all the time or your colleagues and peers will not take the contrarian view as seriously, so pick your battles.
Bill Cambel: Greatest values that an entrepreneur can have is stubbornness around an idea, and the ability to assemble a team that has the same belief in that idea, and that can make it happen.