Week 4: What is a company and why does one start it?

Week 4, the close of the first month, seemed a good time for soul-searching, and so that’s what we did: we spent the classes thinking through why one starts a company and heard from people who have and have not started companies. 

Self-described nerd and Tumblr EVP Andrew McLaughlin was our first guest for “story time,” an informal chat during which he (wait for it .. ) told stories from his career. Andrew’s spent time at Harvard’s Berkman Center, Google, and the Obama campaign and Administration and has been involved with Code for America and Civic Commons too. Unsurprisingly, he had a great many stories, all of them entertaining. Listen for yourself: 

Union Square VenturesFred Wilson joined us midway through class to talk about writing, which he’s done daily for nearly seven years. He wrote about writing on his blog in 2007: 

I never considered myself a writer. I went to engineering school and hated writing. I think my dislike of writing came from my severe inability to write as a kid. I can’t hold a pen or pencil very well, I hold it way too tightly, my handwriting is terrible, hard to read, messy, and often illegible. Typewriters made life easier for me, but the big breakthrough came when I started writing on a computer. For years it was just memos, email, business stuff.

But blogging has changed all of that. Now I write every day. I feel incomplete until I write something. Often it’s  hardly worth hitting the “save” button. Sometimes it’s good. Once in a while it’s great. But it’s a routine and one I cherish.

Naturally, Fred recapped his visit in another blog post. Here he is in class talking about becoming a writer and blogger:

The week’s readings were reflective too.

Here’s Mark Pincus in Zynga’s S-1 statement, explaining why he started the company:

We founded Zynga in 2007 with the mission of connecting the world through games. We believed play—like search, share and shop—would become one of the core activities on the internet.

And here’s Andrew Mason in Groupon’s S-1, giving that company’s journey: 

 I started The Point to empower the little guy and solve the world’s unsolvable problems. A year later, I started Groupon to get Eric to stop bugging me to find a business model.

Tags: 2012