Stefan Hayden

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Ligaya Tichy on How Startups Grow

This is pretty spot on to my experiences. I do think there are ways to counteract this risk aversion to some degree. And I think Shutterstock has done a pretty good job of it.

Julie Horvath

What were a few of the biggest changes you saw with these companies as they grew?

Ligaya Tichy

So, in the early stages, I started at yelp it was 10 people and Airbnb was 12ish, and the passion index is high when companies are young because they can’t pay anybody market salaries. So the people who want to work there are people there love these products. And so there is this incredible excited and this sort of energy in these offices.

And as the company scales and there is more pressure to prove the product and grow. Then you need operations people. And a sort of hierarchy emerges, and operations emerges are really good at executing and incredibly smart, but they don’t… At this point you you are past series seed and at your series b or something like that. And you can afford salaries. And they are not doing because they love your company so much, they are doing it because it’s a great career opportunity or they like your product and they see some long term potential.

And then the company keeps scaling and and you just need work horses. you need people to do jobs. And so you fill those role. and you are growing growing very quickly. And so you just hire people who are good at filling one particular function. They may not necessarily be the sort of crazy creative people at the beginning that like wearing multiple hats.

And what happens is that your role changes. before it was really creative and kind of chaotic and some people really like that. And as the company gets larger. Your role gets more and more structured and it gets narrower. And some people like that because they like to focus and other people go like, “Hey wait this isn’t what I signed up for!”. And there is this attrition. There are just new classes of people come in and some people drop out. And as an early person it sucks when the people you love so much leave because they are what galvanized you every day to be there. Because you were building something together.

But this is the natural course of things. and you know I think me personally I figured out I am am an early stage person. when the company gets big it’s great but I don’t know what to do in those kinds of environments. I don’t want to be a middle manager. i like the chaos. I like building foundations. i like the unknowns and i like to experiment. And you don’t get to do that. The companies get much less risk averse.

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