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The Hustle’s Newsletter Turns 3!
There are now more than 1 million of you reading our daily email, and many of you have something in common: You want to put your mark on the world through your work. Whether that’s starting a company, building something, whatever — you’re ambitious and want to have an impact.
I grew up knowing I wanted to start a company one day, and I’m grateful you’ve helped me do it. This might sound crazy, but the email you’re reading right now has its roots in a chain of hotdog stands I started called Southern Sam’s: Weiners as Big as a Baby’s Arm.
Fortunately for my bank account, I had bigger dreams. So after college I moved to SF because someone told me that’s where the coolest companies started. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The Hustle actually started as a series of conferences — like TED Talks, but for entrepreneurs. I wanted to learn from successful founders, so I invited them to speak at my conference, Hustle Con. We used a newsletter — whose first email went out to 200 of my buds and Linkedin contacts — to market the conference. Almost 400 people showed up.
Soon after, I read a biography of Ted Turner, CNN’s founder. He was a media outsider who created a culture-changing content company. I knew that our content was why people came to the conferences, so I figured: Why not do that?
We launched The Hustle website in 2015, a mix of The Daily Show and the WSJ. We had a few viral hits, including posts about gaming the Kindle system and living on Soylent, but the business model was flawed.
So, knowing that email was a powerful way to reach people based on our conference experience, in 2016 we focused on making a business newsletter.
Now, our company vision is clear: Give builders the information they need to make better business decisions. We’re mostly doing that through this daily email. But next month, you’ll see our next iteration…
Thanks for coming along for the ride!
-Sam, CEO of The Hustle
PS: Here are some of our favorite moments from the past year:
- Lance Armstrong cold emailing us: “Hey gang, I’m a big fan. Keep up the good shit,” after driving by our Hustle sign in ATX.
- Nearly 10k people coming to our events. Like the 21-year-old British reader who, on his first trip to America, showed up unannounced at our SF office and asked to crash there (we let him… for 3 days).
- JJ from West Coast Canning, in Vancouver, on his favorite pun: If that tuna-related pun-run from this past year isn’t included imma be mad. Finest piece of writing in the history of The Hustle, that was.
- Seeing what our Head of Sales looks like as a woman.
- And finally, hitting 1 million subscribers!
The builders behind the businesses
In the spirit of 3 years of writing about business at The Hustle, we thought we’d do something a little different today, and focus not on the businesses shaping the world — but on the people shaping those businesses.
One common myth is that most great founders follow similar paths — the computer whiz drops out of Harvard or Stanford, starts a billion-dollar business in a garage, blah, blah, blah…
But it doesn’t usually go that way.
A few days ago, journalist Walt Mossberg reflected on the experience of founding his business later in life:
Steve Jobs is a stereotypical founder down to a T — from the garage to the turtleneck. But Mossberg still makes a great point: Not all great business founders are twenty-something prodigies.
Many business founders launch impactful companies later in life: The average startup founder launches their company at 42, and the founders of the fastest-growing startups are even older (45).
Here are a few famous late-bloomer business founders:
- Arianna Huffington: started the Huffington Post at 55
- Ray Kroc: started the McDonald’s franchise at 52
- Martha Stewart: started Martha Stewart Living magazine at 49
- Charles Ranlett Flint: founded IBM at 61
- Vera Wang: started designing clothes at 39
- Lynda Weinman: started Lynda.com at 40
- Manish Chandra: founded Poshmark at 43
After spending most of their lives doing other work, these business people started massively successful companies that are still influential today — and they all took wildly different paths.
Today, business founders still take many different paths to success: Take, for instance, Eric Yuan.
Different paths to success
The 2 massive companies that hit public markets yesterday provide a case study in founders following different paths.
Pinterest, a picture-discovery platform, listed publicly at a valuation of $12.7B, narrowly higher than its last private valuation of $12B. Zoom, a video communications company, listed at $10B — 10x its last private valuation of $1B. Zoom, unlike Pinterest, is profitable.
So, what’s the difference between the 2 multibillion-dollar companies? In 2 words, Eric Yuan.
Moving slow and… making things?
In a world of fast-moving disrupters who break things, Zoom’s founder stands out for his patience. When Yuan first decided to move to the US to pursue a tech career, his visa was denied. Then, it was denied 7 more times — but after years of applications, Yuan finally won.
Yuan showed similar restraint with Zoom, taking money only when necessary and prioritizing profitability. On its path to a public listing, Zoom raised just $160m (Pinterest raised $1.5B, roughly 10x as much).
Last year, Zoom’s sales grew 118% last year (roughly 2x the rate of Pinterest’s 60% sales growth).
Yuan’s willingness to take the long road to business success paid off: Zoom become profitable more quickly and sustainably than similarly sized tech companies — and Yuan also still owns a whopping 20% of the company (Pinterest founder Ben Silbermann held on to 11%).
Entrepreneurs like Eric Yuan, Arianna Huffington, and Vera Wang prove there are many paths to business success.
But it’s still far from a level playing field for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Let’s get more founders at this fiesta
Although founders from all backgrounds have built successful companies, not all aspiring entrepreneurs have access to the same opportunities.
Just 9.2% of founders are female, and only 1% of founders are black, according to research compiled by RateMyInvestor and DiversityVC.
So, why is there such a gap in founder representation? Well, for one thing, the venture capital industry has its own diversity problems.
Last year, the percentage of female VC decision-makers was 15.3%, and the percentage of black VC decision-makers was 1% — meaning the diversity of founders almost exactly mirrored the diversity of the VC partners they were raising money from.
The biggest reason there aren’t more non-male and non-white founders isn’t that there aren’t diverse entrepeneurs out there — it’s that it’s harder for them to raise money.
There’s still a long way to go to achieve equal opportunity for all entrepreneurs.
But several VC funds are starting to make progress: JaneVC, Harlem Capital Partners, Pipeline Angels, and The Harriet Fund and several other new VC outfits have all launched funds for entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds.
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New customers get a $20 credit with Linode, so climb over to their site today and see for yourself.
- Typing the word “skepticism” is like playing Pong with your keyboard.
- If you curse at inanimate objects, no one cares but if you talk nicely to them people will think you’re crazy.
- The most impressive thing about going to the moon was coming back.
- Space is only 62 miles away. Which is like an hour long drive.
- People relax to the sound of birds screaming for sex.
- via Reddit
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|Brad “Who will find the founders?” Wolverton
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