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You are correct about the starting conditions. A company with no revenue will devote close to 100% of its resources to creating value for customers.

But as it grows revenue, shifting resources to protecting its revenue stream starts to become lucrative. Employees spend some of their time providing value to customers, and some of their time protecting the "moat" around the company.

The percentage varies quite a lot, but I think there are lots of places where it's quite high. And within a company you may be acting in a role that's almost 100% moat protection, even if your coworkers are providing value directly. Without you, other people at other companies would provide that value directly, you're just helping to ensure that it happens under your shareholders' brand.

It goes meta, because then you have companies whose product is just moat protection services for other companies.

And it goes meta in the other direction too, down to the individual employee level. When you have no experience, you devote 100% of your energy to providing value. Once you have credibility amongst your coworkers, it makes sense to start shifting some of your resources to maintaining that credibility. This can become pathological in the same way, with entire companies whose product helps employees at other companies appear more credible to their peers. E.g. PowerPoint.

"as it grows revenue, shifting resources to protecting its revenue stream starts to become lucrative"

I have a lot of nice blue chip stocks that don't do that. Companies that not only pay me dividends far greater than any savings account, but the base value of the stock increases as well. None of these companies are tech or speculative stocks. They are solid big corporations manufacturing real things that people buy to live. Maybe it's essential. Maybe it's artificial cheese and soda pop. But it's something regular people buy at the corner store or the equivalent. And there's lots of them. And this activity is essential in some way for them and nothing about the transaction is misrepresented or unreasonable.

Soda pop seem like the best possible example of a business that has worked hard to build a moat around itself, to the detriment of its customers. Those companies work hard to make it hard for people to change their lifestyle. I would be surprised if even half of revenues went into the product itself.

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