Google appears to be in a rush to get its holiday shopping done, having just acquired its fourth company in less than a month.
On Friday, AppJet, a start-up co-founded by an ex-Google employee, revealed that it had been bought by Google.
In October, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said his company would be looking more actively for acquisition targets. In 2007, Google acquired 16 companies. In 2008, it bought only two.
AppJet makes an online collaborative Word processing program called EtherPad that allows real-time collaborative authoring similar to what Google offers in Wave.
At one time or another, I’m sure you have heard the well-traveled leadership lesson called “A Short Course in Human Relations” (in case you haven’t , here’s a good little video reminder), which starts with the Six Most Important Words (“I admit I made a mistake”), and ended with the One Most Important Word (“we”).
It’s well traveled because despite its contrivance, there are some great lessons there.
However, it never stuck in my mind as much, or ultimately became as important to my leadership learning, as a little addition to that list I heard about 22 years ago.
Asked why they left their past jobs, a group of high performers (at Wharton) didn't offer the usual "I hate my boss" or even "I don't fit." Their unhappiness with their former employers boiled down to questions of fairness. And there might not be a solution to be found in today's organizations.
Suppose you are in the enviable position of choosing between offers from multiple VC firms. How much should you weigh the brand of the VCs when making your decision? I think the answer is: a little, but a lot less than most people assume.
First, let me say the quality of the individual partner making the offer matters a lot. However, in my experience, there is a only rough correlation between a VC’s brand and the quality of the individual partners there. There are toxic partners at brand name firms, and great partners at lesser known firms.
There are only two situations I can think of where the firm’s brand really matters.
My (highly intelligent and experienced) friend Chris Dixon just posted on the importance of VC brands. He makes many good points and you should read his perspective. But the issue Chris raises begs a more fundamental question: whether or not to take venture money, and if so, from whom?
I have had the good fortune to be close to many successful entrepreneurs. And so I have a perspective as to what separates those who make it big from those who don't. Yes, the quality of the idea is critical, of course, as is the access to capital. And certainly being at the right place at the right time is the ultimate good fortune.
But, if I had to put my finger on the one dominant factor of entrepreneurial success stories, it is the absolute total unwillingness of the entrepreneur to say "uncle."
My premise is that if you put twenty entrepreneurs in a controlled environment, all with the same idea and the same access to capital, only some (if any) will take the idea to the moon. And those who do will be the men or women with the most resolve.
I recently wrote up a post, "Innovation Perspectives – No Shooting Stars." In it, I discussed the issue of organizations myopically focusing on only disruptive innovations to the exclusion of more incremental or sustaining innovations.
In doing more research on the subject, I began thinking about the dynamics that apply when a firm pursues different kinds of innovation. A post by Venkatesh Rao, Disruptive versus Radical Innovations, was very useful for distinguishing between disruptive and radical innovations.
Building on that, I wanted a framework for delineating innovations based on their technology and business impacts. Because they're not necessarily the same. The four quadrants below describe the dynamics for innovations according to their technology and market impacts: