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The Moby Dick theory of big companies

by
Marc Andreessen
Marc Andreessen
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There are times in a startup when you have to deal with big companies (investments, alliances, buying outs). In the novel Moby-Dick, Captain Ahab goes in search of the great white whale Moby Dick. Captain Ahab is the startup, and the big company is Moby Dick - unpredictable and hard to catch.

The behavior of big companies is largely inexplicable when viewed from the outside

  • Its complex system consisting of thousands of people
  • You can't identify all the factors that will come to bear on a decision, so it’s difficult to understand, predict, or influence their decisions

What to do?

  1. Don’t do startups that require deals with big companies to make them successful.
  2. Never assume that a deal with a big company is closed papers are signed and/money is given.
  3. Be patient.
  4. Beware of bad deals.
  5. Never assume a big company will do the obvious thing.
  6. Be aware that big companies care a lot more about what other big companies are doing than what any startup is doing.
  7. If doing deals with big companies is going to be a key part of your strategy, be sure to hire a real pro who has done it before.
  8. Talk to big companies about all kinds of things but be ready to have the conversation just drop and to return to your core business.
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