Blog Post

Yes James, Good guys do win

The last thirty days have been nothing but full of twists and turns in tech-land. Maybe it is the “bubble” or maybe it is just an up cycle, but it sure is exciting. Lots of fundings, news and new startups launches have pock-marked the face of the Valley. However here some events from today, that have one common theme: good guys do finish first.

A few days ago, uber-VC Fred Wilson wrote this great post — Where’s my billion dollar check, I wonder. In that post, this one paragraph is one that stuck with me.

And when you’ve been toiling away month after month, year after year, with no pot of gold in sight, it can be hard to watch that billion dollar deal go down. It’s a punch to the gut. It hurts. I’d love to say to all of you who are feeling that pain that your time will come. But most likely it will not. That’s the way this game is played.

All you got do is play the game. As hard as you can. And that is what the people behind those four news items I listed above did for a long time. Some of them I have known for nearly a decade-and-a-half. Others for only three years. But I can safely say that most of the people behind these companies are genuinely good people, who were in it for the love of the game, and not the money.

David Prager, me and Kevin Rose @ inaugural NewTeeVee Pier Screenings.

Revision 3 was the producer and distributor of the GigaOM Show. They were a tiny company with big ambitions. Our show didn’t last long, but Revision 3 managed to withstand the online video bust and make a solid comeback. During the GigaOM Show days, I got to know David Prager, the understated and less-known third co-founder of Revision 3 (Kevin Rose and Jay Adelson are the other two co-founders.)

There hasn’t been a day since I have known Prager when he hasn’t been sweating blood for his company. Carrying cameras. coming up with show concepts and even putting up with a financial roller coaster, he was resolute in his ambitions for Revision 3. The fact that they are now part of Discovery, a company I deeply admire, is the ultimate victory for their idea.

Like Revision3, SlideShare too is the story of sheer guts and glory. First, they heard the jabs – a YouTube for Powerpoint presentations? Now who would want to share Powerpoint presentations and create a social network around these presentations? The company raised a total of $3 million from a whole bunch on angels and Venrock.

They were unconventional — splitting their operations between India and United States. (Ever want to know the real meaning of toughing it out — try flying to New Delhi in economy class multiple times a year. ) Rashmi Sinha and Jon Boutelle are a couple and apparently it is a no-no in the Valley to fund a couple. And they built a product that people would pay for — a strange idea for some kids.

Rashmi and Jon (who occasionally wrote for GigaOM as a guest blogger) essentially pinched pennies and lived between hope and despair as they built a great little company. They never got the media attention or the credit due to them. And yet, they showed up every day, to fight the good fight anyway. I guess playing for the love of the game does eventually turns into a windfall.

6 Responses to “Yes James, Good guys do win”

  1. Ram Kanda

    Great companies lead by genuinely hard working people. They deserve the payday. That said, I do wish more companies – those with confidence in their long term abilities – would grow rather than sell. With the exception of Facebook, all of our big names are decades old. I know this is all but impossible to do. So much money is a temptation that I don’t know that I could resist, but I do wish we had more like Disney, Apple, and Ford. Companies that grow into legends. Revision 3 was a great company but gone so early in the days of professional internet content creation, they’ll not be remembered outside of this decade. I’m definitely not saying these guys don’t deserve it or shouldn’t have taken the money…. I just want some of my favourite companies to develop into classics.

  2. “Maybe” it’s a bubble? Only when you compare it to the dotcom bubble or the housing bubble. Valuations are certainly higher than they should be. Too many companies working on similar ideas. High demand for engineers. Every other person is starting his/her own company. To me, these are signs of a bubble. The bursting of this bubble may not have a huge impact beyond job losses for lots of software engineers and cooling of the rental market in the bay area but all unreasonable things do come to an end.

  3. Phil Hendrix

    Om, inspirational post. Thought I would share one other anecdote that distinguishes the commitment, involvement and foresight of these and other successful founders.

    A couple of years ago, Dev Khare (VC who led Venrock’s investment in Slideshare, now a principal with Lightspeed Ventures in India) asked if I would speak with Rashmi re: premium services Slideshare was developing. Being an avid Slideshare user (see and a researcher, I readily agreed. A few days later Rashmi called and we spoke for an hour or so – she did a great job asking and probing about my experience, needs, interest in the new subscription models Slideshare was planning, etc.

    Among founders, Rashmi may be exceptional in terms of her “listening skills” (she had previously founded Mindcanvas, an innovative research firm) – however, taking the time to listen and learn from users is a hallmark of effective entrepreneurs. I hope LinkedIn’s acquisition allows Slideshare to continue to innovate and make the platform even more useful. Personally, I think there’s a lot of room to improve discovery (content and relevant contributors), so LinkedIn’s prowess in analytics should prove useful.

    By the way, Venrock’s investment in Slideshare paid off handsomely (15x return on its $2.7m investment

    Dr. Phil Hendrix, immr and GigaOm Pro analyst
    On Slideshare at