Adoption & Effective Use

"Invest in People, Not Ideas" – An Investor's Rule

Chris talks about the founding and early days of Dropbox, and why has a clear rule about investing in people, not ideas (emphasis added):

Well, it turned out storage is a hard problem and having an MIT storage guy who builds a great product actually matters. I don’t know how under any investment philosophy that emphasized theses, areas of investment, roadmaps, etc you could have decided to invest in B2C file sharing company #120 in 2007. Obviously Sequioa knew better than me and invested. I think the only way they could have made that decision was by ignoring the space, competitors, etc. and simply investing in a super talented person/team. Dropbox is one reason I now have a strict rule to only invest in teams. There are other examples of companies I missed and other examples of the converse – companies where I invested in mediocre people chasing a great idea and the company failed – but Dropbox is emblematic to me as to why you should always invest in people over ideas.

My Comments
1. What a great way to put it – well-functioning teams of people do much better work on ideas, and great ideas being chased by mediocre people. I know others have said the same thing – but it’s great to see it in black-and-white from an investor.

2. I see this idea as having broad applicability, and one of the themes in my user adoption book is about earning the right to introduce new approaches to work and new technology to make the new approaches come to life. You have to earn the right to this – just anybody can’t go before senior management and demand funding and permission to tinker with the way work gets done – but having a history of doing great stuff goes a long way to allay their initial fears.

3. The idea of collaboration / social business / Enterprise 2.0 is being discussed widely and advocated by many. If you want to make progress with these ideas at your firm, find the internal people with a history of success, and work with them as lever points.