Sunday, February 18, 2007

Founders at Work: Ann Winblad

On a recommendation from Paul Graham, I picked up Jessica Livingston's Founders at Work: Stories of Startups Early Days. It's 400+ plus pages of interviews with around 30 startup founders. I'm a little over halfway through, but I'm ready to give the book must-read status for any aspiring founder.

Okay, but that's just context, because I really want to talk about my new crush on Ann Winblad.

I had heard of Ann Winblad, but honestly, I had no idea what she had accomplished. Kinda like, John Doerr, I mean I know he's a demigod, but I have no idea how he got to be one, probably through Burning Crusade.

Anyway...Ann Winblad, in her early twenties started a software company back in 1975 in Minnesota. I can tell you're not impressed. Sure, everyone and their bisexual roommate is starting a software company nowadays, especially in San Francisco, but not thirty years ago in Minnesota. People still don't start software companies in Minnesota. Basically, doing what Ann did back then was as unthinkable as Copernicus saying the world was round - it makes sense now but back then it was laughable.

Now, it's so easy for us to start software companies and have people give us millions of dollars to see our dreams come to fruition. It's kinda ridiculous that people would trust young, inexperienced geeks to build the industries of the future, and yet that's the world we live in. Don't take it for granted, it's a really unique moment in history. Who knows how long it'll last.

Somehow, I've gotten away from the original point of this post: to give you some highlights from Ann's interview. I'll save that for another day.