Layoffs 3.0: Big vs, Small, Start Up vs. Your Own

Six weeks since I left Yahoo! and what a journey it is turning into. As painful as it is, there is something to be said for the forced disruption of routine: I’ve gotten a renewed sense of how the world sees me and what I really want to do because of this experience.
One of the things I am struggling with now is the buy vs. own dilemma. It’s not whether I should acquire a start-up; it’s whether I should let a start up acquire me. In other words, what size conmpany do I want to be at and am I better off just doing my own thing? Risk, reward, adventure..they’re all in the mix, along with compelling options for teams of colleagues and friends.
I have pretty much resolved that my next focus will not be a another largeco; I love solving probems and shipping software too much to go anywhere where the focus is conservation and small steps. On the other hand, I see both the strengths and weaknesses of doing my own thing–the opportunity is to go for it and have either a success or a well-intentioned failure–but then, on the other hand, would I have that if I joined someone else’s start up?
And then there’s my interest in working on things that circle back on specific passions: community, tools, local, social networks, search and social search, and, of course, conversion, transactions and the funnel–specialized knowledge I acquired at Personals and want to make use of.
And my interest in blogging; I’ll have a new template here, soon, and some very interesting things coming up to write about-more on that later.
Folks who struggled with Your StartUp vs. Someone Else’s–how did you make that decision?
What factors drove you? Comments, please.

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  1. Joe Lazarus says:

    I’ve been asking myself these same questions the last few months. I think it comes down two questions. First, how focused do you want your role to be? Running your own company exposes you to a lot more parts of the business (good or bad). Even at a small company, you’re likely to be focused on just one area (eg. product management). As a startup founder, you’re juggling many different things (eg. sales, marketing, product, design, accounting, janitorial, etc). I have a lot of different interests, so I like the idea of spreading myself across a few disciplines even if much of it isn’t glamorous. Second, how comfortable are you with risk, stress, and failure? Joining an existing team, while risky relative to a big company, is still far more likely to result in success than starting something entirely new. Personally, I’m ok with the risk, but that’s mostly due to the fact that I don’t have many financial responsibilities like kids, a mortgage, etc.
    Ultimately, it’s a personal decision. I’m sure you could be happy in both cases as long as you’re working on something you’re passionate about. I try to make these decisions by looking a few moves ahead. I picture where I want to be in 20 years, and choose the option that seems like the best stepping stone towards that longer-term goal. Whatever you choose probably won’t be your last job… it’s just a pit stop on your way to bigger and better things.

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