Keith Rabois says “great entrepreneurs don’t blog”
Last night I had the pleasure of meeting Keith Rabois for the first time. By his definition, at this very moment, I am wasting my time. It’s 6:35PM on a Wednesday afternoon, I have the Techcrunch Disrupt Demo’s ustreaming in the background (my roomate from college is in the finals), flipping back and forth between email and this blog post, and in Keith’s eyes, the yield on this time I am spending writing this post is so low, that he has taken the position that “entrepreneurs and VC’s should not blog.”
I talked about the blog as an enterprise tool. A way to amplify your voice if you have smart or unique thinking, and an effective distribution channel to reach the people that matter to you or your business. We discussed the “rise of Chris Dixon,” his emulation of Fred Wilson, the early writing of Paul Graham, Marc Andreesen, and so on, and as we went through the list of people who have effectively used the blog to enhance their market position, we realized that it is not that blogging is a waste of time, but rather that the majority of those who blog simply suck. And if you are great or different or continually creative enough to write fresh content effortlessly, then at worst (and in Keith’s opinion) it’s “no harm no foul” and at best (and in my opinion) it is hugely valuable.
As I left that conversation and continued to think about his distaste for this medium, I could not understand how someone so talented and accomplished in our space could be missing the boat on what seems to be such an obvious and valuable tool for young entrepreneurs, and then it hit me. “Keith Rabois doesn’t see the value of the blog as a platform because Keith Rabois is Ketih Rabois.” I played back the conversation and listened to him rattle off the top 10 entrepreneurs in the valley, none of whom blog, and it occurred to me that the blog is not a tool for the Keith Rabois’ or Steve Jobs’ of the world, who have decades of history to stand on. It is a tool for those who are making their mark in the present (I would put the Fred’s and Dixon’s of the world into that category). I now see why Keith pointed out the lack of blogging by market leaders on the West Coast…it is because on the West Coast, the market leaders are leaders who have earned that title for work they have done over the past 25 years. They are entrenched, their personal platforms built before blogging existed, and now they rest on those platforms, not needing to amplify their voice of prove that they are equal to or better than those that call themselves leaders. On the east coast, however, I look around at who is leading our market (many of whom blog), who is top of the pack, and they are all entrepreneurs and investors who are “famous” or respected for what they are doing RIGHT NOW. In New York we don’t have a 30 year startup history that defines who is who and who is best. It’s much more of a wild wild west. If you are making moves, changing markets, and better than the noise, the blog is an essential outlet for you to compensate where 30 years of word of mouth don’t proceed your every sneeze.
We had a new intern at Hyperpublic who started last week. I made a list of goals for him this summer, and one of my unconscious instincts was to have him “start a blog.” A blog is a way for small but smart voices to rise and be heard by loud and large incumbents. It is a way to communicate to the market that “I met Keith Rabois, he didn’t think I was dumb, and felt it worth his time to talk to me for 20 minutes.” Oh and look, I mentioned my startup in a post that got syndicated 10,000 times, 300 people clicked through to my site, 30 converted into users, 2 sent me emails and asked for meetings, one is a talented database engineer, and the other was some random kid in Nairobi. All that for 30 minutes of time, 30 minutes I didn’t spend emailing, or calling, or meeting, or whatever, but 30 minutes I did spend reflecting on a conversation that I enjoyed. Internalizing what I learned. Cementing my ideas as I movie forward. “And look Keith…I’m talking to you right now…you’re reading this. You will now remember me, vs. every other hand you shook at Conway’s party. In the next five years we will have an opportunity to create value together. When that day comes (and it may be soon because I’m fascinated by the intersection of transaction and geodata), if we aren’t already better friends, I will send you an email, with a link to this post, and you will take my call, because I think different, and I got creative, and this is how blogs work. Are you sure you don’t want one?”