Thanks Todd, I hear your point. Having spent some time in the investment world, I definitely know the realities of taking outside capital. I think you are right, 90% of the time this comes with unintended consequences and/or inevitably a partial forfeiture of a central vision on the part of the founders.
I guess in this case my plea is perhaps naively aspirational. I think Medium can grow and still hold true to its original vision. I don’t think VC’s and Values are necessarily mutually exclusive.
In fact, I believe that this dynamic whereby a firm grows because it stays true to its vision is how the next generation of truly successful businesses (and in turn their more enlightened investors) will distinguish themselves from the pack.
For example, take a book that was recently referred to me called Reinventing Organizations. The author, Frederic Laloux, a former McKinsey consultant, spent two years researching a dozen companies that have generated consistently above average financial performance while focusing entirely on elevating their customer relationships and maintaining their corporate values.
These values, in staying with the books themes, all incorporated some degree of self-organization whereby historically prevalent heirarchical corporate structures are eschewed in the name of distributed responsibilities and individual self-determination. Despite that unique day to day operating structure, these companies generally still had to deal with boards and other bodies that provided financial backing and thus oversight. Even within that constraint, they are able to hold true to their visions and not let the “bottom line” contaminate their commitment to quality.
I bring this up because Medium in theory is one of these companies at least in terms of their operating structure. They abide by the “Holacratic” operating framework which is described in detail in the book and is basically the “poster child” of self organization. A firm doesn’t generally pursue this type of structure unless they prioritize their core values and the ability of all of their employees to maintain them.
This may be all corporate hogwash again, but I would like to believe that there is a possibility, although perhaps slight, that the intent is genuine in this case.
So it’s rare but not impossible.
That said, in order to achieve this, you basically need two ingredients to Mr. Laloux’s admission; a) a supportive, principled CEO and b) an equally supportive and principled Board. So if Ev has $$$’s in his mind or if the outside investors have ROI’s as the sole objective then, sadly, your prediction is probably not too far off the mark.
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