SAME RULES FOR ALL
I mean, he took his startup, which admittedly was not "Web", and converted it into the most successful technology franchise in history.
How "web-only" are these rules? Can they be applied to tech companies in general?
So, I went through Evans' ten rules and tried to apply them to Bill Gates and his nascent Micro-soft thirty years ago (yes, there was a hyphen there for a brief time).
Here's what I came up with:
1. Be Narrow: Micro-soft certainly was narrow in the beginning...it was only about PC programming tools, starting with his own version of BASIC for the Altair. Bill definitely took Evan's statement here to heart:
"Focus on the smallest possible problem you could solve that would potentially be useful".
Bill gets full credit here.
2. Be Different: As Evan says here:
"Ideas are in the air. There are lots of people thinking about—and probably working on—the same thing you are. And one of them is
I obviously replaced with Google with IBM here, but the point is the same...and Bill Gates did "deal" with them. In fact, it was the deal of the century. Refresher in the footnote* below via Wikipedia, if you'd like to review.
3. Be Casual: Bill certainly was "Casual", about the way he moved quickly from programming tools to OS to applications, using every trick in the book. He famously sold the his key product to IBM almost before he had a product (see footnote below).
Talk about putting out "Alpha"/"Beta" web services out there. Again, full credit here.
4. Be Picky: As Evan says here:
"Another perennial business rule, and it applies to everything you do: features, employees, investors, partners, press opportunities."
5. Be User-Centric: Evan here:
"Always focus on the user and all will be well."
And Bill certainly did that here, only the users he really focused on were the Developers...they were his primary "users" of his tools and operating systems.
Regular users came almost half a decade later as the company entered mainstream applications.
6. Be Self-Centered: Evans' point here:
"Great products almost always come from someone scratching their own itch".
Again, the original version of BASIC came from Bill's passion in creating something for the Altair in 1975.
8. Be Tiny: Well, he certainly failed this one, although they did start the company frugally in Albuquerque, New Mexico, after dropping out of Harvard.
9. Be Agile: As Evan rightly says about his first startup and other people's:
"Pyra was started to build a project-management app, not Blogger. Flickr's company was building a game. Ebay was going to sell auction software. Initial assumptions are almost always wrong."
Full points here for Bill, going from tools to OS to apps to online services to web services to whatever else is next on the software/services side, not to mention all the agility on the hardware side...xBox 360 anyone?
10. Be Balanced: This according to Evan, is about making the workplace "a lot more enjoyable place to work".
Well, again, Bill made it very enjoyable indeed for at least a couple of decades, minting Microsoft millionaires by the thousands (at least 10,000 by 2000 according to this New York Times article). Guaranteed to reduce work stress anytime.
Looks like the more things change (Web 2.0 and all), the more they remain the same.
* (via Wikipedia):
"However, the source of the real success for the company was the DOS operating system. On August 12, 1981, after negotiations with Digital Research failed, IBM awarded a contract to Microsoft to provide a version of the CP/M operating system, which was set to be used in the upcoming IBM Personal Computer (PC).
However, Microsoft did not have an operating system at the time, so it purchased a CP/M clone called QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System) from Tim Paterson of Seattle Computer Products for $50,000, which Microsoft renamed to PC-DOS. Due to potential copyright infringement problems with CP/M, IBM marketed both CP/M and PC-DOS for $250 and $40, respectively, with PC-DOS eventually becoming the standard because of its lower price.
Around 1983, in collaboration with numerous companies, Microsoft created a home computer system, MSX, which contained its own version of the DOS operating system, entitled MSX-DOS; this became relatively popular in Japan and Europe.
Later, after Compaq successfully cloned the IBM BIOS, the market saw a flood of IBM PC clones. Microsoft was quick to use its position to dominate the home computer operating system market. Microsoft began licensing its operating system for use on non-IBM PC clones, and called this version of the operating system MS-DOS (short for Microsoft Disk Operating System). By marketing MS-DOS aggressively to manufacturers of IBM-PC clones, Microsoft rose from a small player to one of the major software vendors in the home computer industry."