Nobody cares as much as the founders
Or, keep "doing things that don't scale"
Very early in my tenure at Okta, I had an opportunity to shadow our COO Frederic Kerrest in a meeting. Freddy led our BD team among numerous other functions at that time, and it was a big opportunity for me to sit and listen.
It was a casual meeting with the founder of a potential technology partner, rather than a high-stakes customer sales meeting, and it was a personal friend of his. The two chatted about entrepreneurship, and the guest asked how things were going. Freddy made note of an employee who had recently written an email that was poorly-worded or had misspellings or mistakes in it, and as I recall it, made an observation that has stuck with me ever since: “Nobody cares as much as the founders”.
This was in the Fall of 2013; after we had completed our Series C from Sequoia, after we had already had a couple hundred employees and meaningful revenue, and after it was already clear that the business had a path to significant scale.
Similarly, around 2018 or 2019 – after our IPO – my team needed to buy a new SaaS product. Our CEO Todd McKinnon needed access as well, and soon after we shared credentials with him he asked why the product wasn’t integrated into the “Okta Integration Network” as an SSO application. Todd personally was asking about getting a single new application added to the app network, when we had a full team dedicated to building out the app integration ecosystem (which is a key differentiator for Okta’s utility to customers).
Founders can hire the best people they can find and recruit, and can get those people to buy into the vision of the founders and pour blood, sweat, and tears into the business to help build something special. They can get the press to write about their new startup. And they can bring on world-class investors who will be co-conspirators and co-pilots on the journey. But employees can always find another opportunity, the tech press will happily move onto the next hot thing, and investors manage a broad and diverse portfolio of investments so they can avoid single-company risk.
Nobody cares as much as the founders.
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