Feedburner: "That's not what we do", "Get all the feeds"
Last night, Dick Costolo and Rick Klau from Feedburner stopped by the TechStars office to give a fascinating (and often hilarious) talk about their experiences -starting with just four guys with a tiny market and no revenue through getting acquired by Google.
There was a lot of great advice in the talk, but I want to touch on two points that really got me thinking.
First, Dick and Rick mentioned that from the beginning, Feedburner understood what Feedburner was about: they were going to provide value by sitting between publishers and their audience. Furthermore, they were going to interact with publishers and be virtually invisible to the audience.
The interesting result of this is that they turned down several lucrative revenue streams because they didn’t fit with their vision. For instance, some companies offered them money to install Feedburner on corporate intranets. Although this would have been a source of revenue at a time when they didn’t have any, they had the confidence to stick with their vision and say “no, that’s not what we do.”
Secondly, they had a core goal/metric they executed on: “get all the feeds”. Notice that this isn’t the same as their business model, slogan, or investor pitch. Rather, it was used internally as a simple goal that got everyone working towards the same thing. Dick was apparently famous for saying stuff like (and I’m paraphrasing here), “Do you have all the feeds? No? OK, then get back out there and get more feeds”. Jim Collins goes into this more (he calls it “The Hedgehog Concept”) in Good to Great.
These points got me thinking: what is our vision for Devver? And what is our our core goal/metric? I’ll save the answers for another post after I’ve had some time to really think about it.