Startups And The Big Lie

Startups And The Big Lie

A startup is hemorrhaging cash, and the VCs have yet to agree on terms for a capital infusion. The clock is ticking until deadpool, first weeks away then days. The founders, stress levels increasing to stratospheric levels, continue to sell their company to everyone, whether investors, employees, potential employees, or clients. They have little choice. Funding is contingent on growth, but that growth can only happen if no one really understands the funding situation. Founders have to tell the lie – that everything is fine, that a feature is going to launch even though the engineer for that feature hasn’t been hired yet, that payroll will run even though the VC dollars are still nowhere on the horizon. Lying is a requisite and daily part of being a founder, the grease that keeps the startup flywheel running. No one likes to put it that way of course. Instead, we use phrases like “hustling” and “fake it until you make it” to make the idea of lying more palatable. “Information control” is among the most important skills a founder has traditionally needed for success, and these euphemisms change nothing of the daily behavior. But times are changing, and everyone is getting more sophisticated about startups. People know what questions to ask, and are not afraid to aggressively probe to get the answers they seek. That means that some of the key myths about success in Silicon Valley are at risk. We need a new transparent approach toward information, but we also need to understand that startups are inherently risky – and accept the lies as they come. The Ignorance Bubble Startups run on an alchemy of ignorance and amnesia that is incredibly important to experimentation. Most startups fail. The vast, vast majority of startup employees will never exercise their options, […]