Why tech startup are not ran by single man
One tech startup scaled to 73 million views per day, with only one developer.
One developer named Markus Frind founded a dating site called Plenty of Fish in 2003. It wasn’t until 2009, 6 years later, that he needed to hire his first employee. In the meantime, the site had gained 50,000,000 users, 1 billion monthly pageviews and $10,000,000 in profits every year. Even more impressive, he only worked for 10 hours a week during this period. Ultimately, he sold the business for $575 million in 2015.
Similarly, Thibault Duplessis runs , one of the world’s most popular chess sites, on his own. He founded the site in 2010, and since then has grown it to 20 million visitors per day. Unlike his competitors however, Duplessis has honourably opted to keep the site ad free, supporting it only from donations and running it as a non-profit.
Obviously these 2 examples are massive successes. As a result of completely bootstrapping their business, and neglecting VC funding, they have maintained full ownership of their businesses and avoided dilution. This worked out particularly well for Markus Frind, my first example, who managed to keep the full $575 million (minus taxes). Their existence is a testament to just how cheap it can be to run a business under efficient management in today’s climate, thanks to cloud computing, low hosting costs etc.
However these two companies do remain outliers. The fact that I can count on my hand the number of businesses achieved this scale with only 1 employee prove the minuscule odds of replicating their success with one man. There’s simply too much to do in the chaotic world of the average startup to manage with only one person.
If you’re worried about your equity being diluted, one solution would be to bootstrap your startup to a profitable state, and then slowly add employees to your team, only seeking VC funding if you really need it, or think it can multiply your growth rates. This prevents dilution from VCs or a co-founder. Personally, I think this is probably the happy medium between the amazing, yet rarely successful aforementioned businesses of one developer and the addiction some startups develop to VC funding, without ever actually building a profitable company.
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