I had lunch with a friend a few weeks ago. He’s running his third startup. The first I’ve never heard of, the second one had potential but didn’t make it and his third is on the cusp of sustainability. He told me that this one has to work, because the hours are a strain on his marriage.
I thought about that for a few minutes.
Four years ago this week I pitched Crowd Fusion on stage at TechCrunch 50. One of my judges was Reid Hoffman and he didn’t believe Crowd Fusion could be the “last CMS you’ll ever need” and that I’d be working on Crowd Fusion for the next ten or twenty years.
“Echoing what Dick Costolo said earlier, I think getting people to adopt a complex productivity tool will have a slow curve. In technology you are never the last anything. There are always new content types. Now I think what you’re doing is exactly the right thing: plugin architecture, open source. Trying to create a constant rejuvenation and evolution is exactly the right strategy. But in tech, there seem to be entire revolutions every two to three years.”
In technology you are never the last anything.
A couple of years later we had well-known customers paying us primarily because we were experts in mobile and the cloud. When I showed off Crowd Fusion on stage in 2009, mobile and the cloud weren’t on our roadmap at all.
So we were succeeding, right? We were nimble. We adapted to the important trends. We were going to be working together on Crowd Fusion for a decade, right?
Nope. Things change.
I didn’t want us to get marginalized as a web development shop with a proprietary platform, so I turned Crowd Fusion into a true product company.
We acquired a UK company, we put their CEO in charge of the whole thing and we adopted their name. We safely ejected our CMS customers. We avoided Shared Command following Reid’s own excellent example. We turned a product that was arguably top ten in its category into a clear number one in a hot market: brands becoming publishers.
While I thought I could spend my days trying to move Ceros forward from the outside and give our CEO the complete control I promised him when we merged, it’s tough to no longer be running something myself. Advising a dozen companies isn’t as fulfilling as running your own startup.
So I’m building something new.
Because you can’t, you won’t and you don’t stop.