How to Build a Billion Dollar Internet Company

I thought this was some interesting advice to chew on from Ev Williams, a co-founder and former CEO of Twitter.

“Here’s the formula if you want to build a billion-dollar internet company: Take a human desire, preferably one that has been around for a really long time…Identify that desire and use modern technology to take out steps.”

“The internet makes human desires more easily attainable. In other words, it offers convenience,” he said. “Convenience on the internet is basically achieved by two things: speed, and cognitive ease.” In other words, people don’t want to wait, and they don’t want to think – and the internet should respond to that. “If you study what the really big things on the internet are, you realize they are masters at making things fast and not making people think.”

“Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple were all excellent at delivering this sort of convenience, Williams said. They often got there by removing steps from what had once been a more complex series of actions, precisely the trick that allowed Williams’ first big invention, Blogger, to dominate how people put new content on the web. Instead of creating a new document, saving it, manually uploading it, and viewing it in a web browser, people could simply type their content into a web form and click “publish.”

Next logical question: what are some examples of human desires? Steven Reiss has identified 16:

  • Acceptance, the need for approval
  • Curiosity, the need to learn
  • Eating, the need for food
  • Family, the need to raise children
  • Honour, the need to be loyal to the tradition values of one’s clan/ethnic group
  • Idealism, the need for social justice
  • Independence, the need for individuality
  • Order, the need for organized, stable, predictable environments
  • Physical activity, the need for exercise
  • Power, the need for influence of will
  • Romance, the need for sex
  • Saving, the need to collect
  • Social contact, the need for friends (peer relationships)
  • Status, the need for social standing/importance
  • Tranquility, the need to be safe
  • Vengeance, the need to strike back/to win

Sources

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