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“实验室”型公司的致命缺陷

Sahil Lavingia 2011年11月29日

当今最热门的初创企业创业模式存在重大的缺陷。

    近来, “实验室”型公司蔚然成风。移动实验室Milk公司和手机社交网络平台Color公司就是其中的典型。但我认为,这类公司几乎都注定逃脱不了失败的命运,因为它们的核心理念存在缺陷,妨碍了它们成长为真正稳健的大型公司。

太易“变心”

    如果一种产品在实验室型公司胎死腹中,而公司却安然无恙。我认为这并不是什么好事,相反,这实际上是一件很糟糕的事。如果一件产品可能在两个月内就会宣告失败,要燃起公司上下对它的热情,可谓难上加难。人们也不会再为它经常加班到深夜了。

    要想说服用户采用初创企业的产品非常困难。试想一下,如果用户知道这件产品只是个试验品,会怎么样?比如,我就曾经拒绝使用Oink(Milk公司开发的移动应用程序),因为我知道它在不久的将来可能就不复存在了。这一点很有可能会成为一个自我实现的预言。它对任何初创企业来说,都是暗藏的危机。如果连公司创始人自己都说并未全身心地投入,那这个威胁就更为真切了。

缺乏执行力

    如果知道很快就会出现新点子,那就无心打磨细节。我不会指名道姓地说出来,但因为实验室型公司推出的产品缺乏打磨与修饰,已经让我不止一次地感到失望。如果死神在身后追赶,人们跑得会比以往任何时候都更快。

雇佣问题

    培养优秀的人才对于早期阶段的初创企业来说可能是最大的挑战。如今,融资比以前更加容易。招聘志同道合的人也比原来容易许多。但是,如果公司目标是生产很多产品,那么,树立愿景就很困难了。全球最大的在线支付平台贝宝(PayPal)拥有清晰的愿景,对于那些希望投身于革新性支付公司工作的工程师来说,贝宝是第一选择。如果没有明确的任务目标,初创企业只会成为千千万万大军中的平庸一员。

股权失衡

    实验室型公司成立初期并没有多少激励措施提供给创始员工,这使得初期招聘更加困难。它也会导致股权的失衡,可能会为将来平添不少麻烦。同样,我在此不也会点名举例。希望了解具体案例的读者可以给我发电子邮件。

错位的热情

    如果有人对研发手机极为热情,但所在的公司却认为生产手机难以盈利,他该何去何从?答案只有两种,要么留下来继续研究他不喜欢的产品,要么辞职。我见过很多人因为这个原因离开了实验室型公司。

初创企业都是“实验室”

    初创企业都是围绕一个(很关键的)想法而成立的。如果这一想法在数年内仍未实现,那么初创企业就会以失败告终,或者着手开发别的新产品。这本来就是初创企业的发展道路,没必要郑重其事地昭告天下。

    打造一家大公司非常非常困难。我认为,无论是公司创始人、员工还是投资者,都要在创始阶段围绕某一个强有力的理念众志成城、共同努力。必须全身心投入。

    Sahil Lavingia是网络游戏“Crate and Rmmbr”以及iPone限时免费游戏软件Dayta和Color的缔造者。

    译者:李玫晓/汪皓

    A recent trend is the advent of quite a few "lab" companies. Milk is the most relevant, Color is another. I think almost all of these are doomed to fail because of flaws in the core of the concept that prevent really big, stable companies from being born.

Switching too quickly

    If a product dies within a labs company, the company doesn't die. I think this is actually a bad thing. It will be harder to get yourself and your employees pumped up about a product that may be scrapped in two months. You'll work fewer late nights.

    It already is so hard to convince users to use your startup's product. Imagine if your users knew that this was just an experiment! For example, I refuse to use Oink because I know it may not exist in the near future. This could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is implicit with any startup, but becomes much more real when the founder himself discloses the fact that even he is not totally all-in on this idea.

Lack of execution

    If you know another idea is just around the corner, less time is spent on the details. I won't name names, but I've been disappointed more than once by the lack of polish of products produced by labs companies. People run the fastest they've ever run when death is right behind them.

Hiring

    Bring on awesome people is probably the biggest challenge of any early-stage startup. Raising money has become easier. It is a lot easier to hire someone that believes in your vision, and it is hard to have a vision when your goal as a company is to produce many things. PayPal had a clear vision, and for engineers that wanted to work on a revolutionary payments company, PayPal was number one. When you don't have a specific mission, your startup becomes one of thousands.

Equity imbalances

    There is less incentive to join a lab company early. This makes hiring your initial employees more difficult. But it also leads to a skew in equity that may lead to significant drama in the company's future. Again, I won't name names, but email me if you want some concrete examples.

Mis-matched passions.

    If someone is really passionate about mobile, and then their company decides that it is too hard to make money on mobile, what does that person do? Stick around, working on a product he doesn't like — or quit. I've seen many people quit labs companies for this reason.

Every startup is already a "lab"

    A startup starts with one (big) idea. The idea doesn't pan out after a couple of years, and the startup fizzles out or works on something new. This is the path of a startup. I don't think you need to make this explicit.

    It is already really, really, hard to build a big company. I think the founders, the employees, and the investors need to rally around just one powerful idea at the very beginning. You need to go all-in.

    Sahil Lavingia (@slavingia) is co-founder of Crate and Rmmbr on the web, and Dayta and Color Stream on the iPhone.

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