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Avoiding Depression While Not Running a $1B Company (smalldogsbigdogs.tumblr.com)
268 points by adam on May 18, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 98 comments



Said it before, and I'll say it again - much of the media we (hn-type readers) consume is 'tech porn'. Much like classic 'porn' reinforced a view of women as sexual objects, tech porn reinforces the myth that "just try harder and you'll be a billionaire!".

Yes, I'm oversimplifying a bit, but I don't think by much. I think the mental/emotional harm that this sort of fixation on 'startups' has on many people is understated - we mourn the loss of someone to suicide, but say "he had other problems already". No 'founders' are ever comfortable talking to anyone about any fears/doubts because they will lose all respect from staff and investors, so there's an emotional toll being taken on a small (but growing) group of people.


Much like classic 'porn' reinforced a view of women as sexual objects, tech porn reinforces the myth that "just try harder and you'll be a billionaire!".

Damnit, Kimsal, quit dashing my dreams!!! Take your cold, hard reality and pitch it somebody who wants it... I prefer living in a world where I can be a billionaire someday.

As I've said numerous times.. I'd make a great billionaire playboy; if only I had a billion dollars. :-)


Quickest way to become a billionaire is to start off a mega-billionaire and then try your hand at investing...

FWIW, you would make an awesome billionaire playboy. Even a decent millionaire playboy someday. ;)


Aah, the "someday" bit is the rub. If "someday" isn't, like, next week or so, it's almost pointless. I'm getting old, man. What good is a 40+ millionaire (or billionaire) playboy?


Ask Felix Dennis.


Money is overrated! Being passionate what you do and making money with it is all that's needed. If money comes along as a side effect. Good! If not, it's still ok because you enjoy your time.


Yes, but money is the power to create change. It's an accelerant. Elon Musk is a good example of the importance of money when doing big things. Bringing down the per-pound costs of launching a satellite is a really, really big deal. Sadly, it costs a lot of money to tackle that class of problem.


who really wants to be a billionaire though. Most people can't concieve of that kind of money. A little financial stability is all anyone requires.


Yeah, I mean, I joke about this kind of shit all the time, and I'm not saying I'd turn down a chance to be a billionaire. But I don't necessarily expect to ever be one, and that's not really my goal in life. For me, I really just want enough money to have a nice house, a nice car, and the freedom to do some travelling and not have to worry about money - in the sense of having to worry about things like "What if my car breaks down?" on a daily basis, etc.


Also good to note that many of these people are not billionaires. They have companies valued at a billion dollars but they will likely never see that much in their bank account.


Having seen the sausage getting made I now no longer eat sausages.


Lot of good advice on dealing with the $ aspect of this at http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3974781


You might as well ignore Facebook and Instagram. If you want to be a billionaire, creating a social media company is probably the worst way to do it. Reading and obsessing over this kind of news is toxic for your brain.

If that kind of stuff gets to you, I would suggest the opposite of what the author did- don't read the news. These days there is very little valuable information because every media company is competing for eyeballs so they each try to out-do each other with sensational, deceptive and in some cases completely false headlines. I can't help but feel dumber every time I read Bloomberg news or the Wall Street Journal. Just don't do it. Go on a news diet for a week and see if you don't feel better and if you miss out on any important news.


That's what I wanted to say: don't read the news.

I've found out that I'm much happier when I don't read the news, in particular news about politics. On the other hand, news about science & technology sometimes do make me happy.


Humans are social animals, and awareness of a negative state of our community makes us sad or mad, which seems meant to drive us to action. Evolution appears to be mostly about the code (genes), not the client (mind) or machine (body). From pre-history to present, communities've been composed of genetically-similar members. Over time this has been less and less true, corresponding with the accelerating decrease of travel costs. Now data (memes) have emerged as another evolutionary layer, at a higher level of abstraction.

Contemporary "political news" is propaganda carefully crafted by concerned corporations to misinform the viewer, both targeted "reverse lobbying" on specific issues and general-purpose anti-participation tactics. The idea seems to be to get voters to act against their economic and/or ethical interests either by convincing them to mis-vote (compared to how they would if they were more informed) or not vote, via manufactured dissent, character assassination, blurring of issues and facts, and irrelevant/impossible campaign promises (e.g. archaic issues like gender and reproductive rights and "border control" that's thinly veiled racism (and won't happen because companies want the illegals and they pay better)).

Call it reverse advertising. We've gotten so good at PR techniques that they've become invisible. Everything stays the same, but we rebrand it and view the world through the lens of the internet, detached from empathy with the bitter natural world, in a cocoon suckling the nectar of porn-- over-processed information.

This is why startups have only yet caused negligible political change. Software, and by extension most programmers, are effectively "brains in a vat." Shows how machines have already "taken over" the world, and haven't displaced us in the process. The singularity already happened, but we're still large, hairless bipedal rodents-- and computers are not. Human bodies need different stuff than machines, so we don't have to be competitive.

Likewise, hackers just want to have fun, and -- as this comment bears witness -- we just talk about it online instead of doing anything about it. Hackers aren't competitive with suits any more than computers are to biology. Suits want software, so nerds get paid, but then turn around and re-invest their money, move to Singapore and live it up, go on perma-vacation, etc. There are many brilliant hackers, many of them also more than charismatic and wealthy enough to get into national office. Instead they build the programming language they've always wanted, or take up cycling, or reconnect with nature.

When we do look beyond the bubble of hedonism, we're comparable to people who pray for things out of their control, i.e. asking for something, instead of either making adjustments to gain control or accepting that control is ultimately undesirable or impossible. Self-directed prayer (meditation), where one looks inward and develops a dialog with 'eir layers of consciousness, is something different, but other-directed prayer is the single-player version of "happy news" (porn), be it cat pictures or startup drama or gadget announcements or sports or esoteric programming language design.


Lighten up. We're not living in a literal 1984-meets-The-Matrix world just yet. Your perspective seems as narrow as you criticize others' for being.

Silicon Valley may yet reshape the world, even if some of us take scenic bike rides. (That was one of the bad things, if I'm keeping your argument straight, while empathy with the natural world in general is good. The problem with bike rides is they take time that could be spent running for president.)

I understand the point that many sectors of society could use some new life breathed into them, but I think the oxygen needs to come from where it will, and it will come.


No, but it is a Brave New World. We're the ones out on that island with the artists and scientists. We make tools of change, but sell them off so that we can go on bike rides. It's hedonism; this is the New Gilded Age.


I don't think it's healthy for anyone to want to be a billionaire. You can want to make money, maybe even a lot of it, but why the arbitrary huge value of a billion?


This got me wondering how many people have built successful products and businesses with the sole intent of making it big? In other words, if your end game is cashing out 1 billion, are you crippling your full potential? Are the real successes born out of greater passions? Happenstance plays its part for sure, but that’s part of my point. Not barring ones drive to hack and tinker, what might you be doing if money wasn’t the goal? What would you build and what road would that take you down?


I don't think there is any one rule that applies to everybody. Some people are just very skilled at making money. Warren Buffett has said that he always wanted to be rich. Others came into extreme wealth out of dumb luck and great timing (this seems more in line with Facebook and Google). The only common thread that I see is that to be successful you have to be doing something that you are very good at. That is a lot harder than it sounds because a lot of people feel pressured to do things that they really suck at but convince themselves that they are good at.


Facebook - yes, but calling Google "dumb luck"?

I mean - the only difference between FB and many other social networks is that everybody happened to be on FB. Of course it takes enormous amount of skill to operate on this scale, but if all those people weren't on FB, they would be on one of those other social networks doing more or less the same thing.

But Google is different. I mean - do you even remember how people used internet before Google? Google was not just "marginally better, more popular AltaVista", it dramatically changed the way we do things online. And then it did it again with GMail. Not to forget Android (though it's not in the same league as search & email). Anyway, Google had a good deal of luck and good timing, but it was by no way "dumb".


You're way out past the point that Google became Google. Two PhD CS students worked on a research project that became a multibillion dollar company. The project was not dumb luck, but the outcome was. It is not dumb luck when a hedge fund manager raises capital and makes billions of dollars. See the difference?


Dumb luck and timing.

Believe it or not, Facebook has changed a lot in the way people interact with each other. Just like Google search changed the way we do things online.

And it certainly changed a lot more than GMail...


That is why I only read The Onion.


There's a certain sincerity about the Onion in that it acknowleges that news is for entertainment. (I'm guessing you also read Hacker News)


But it's not the billion dollars that is most appealing about Facebook and Instagram. It's the celebrity status and power of changing culture.

You can make a big bundle forging steel too, but where's the sex in that?


A billion dollars is always sexy.


Yeah, I can guarantee you the billion dollar steel magnate is getting laid plenty. The only difference is you don't know his name or that he is on a yacht in St. Barthe's. Personally I'd prefer wealth without the fame.


Actually I do know his name. He's my uncle.


This post made me think of the book Outliers by Gladwell -- the Zucks and Gates of this world are very much a result of hard work, but they're also a result of being in exactly the right place at the right time. But I've got some good news: Most of you are quite young here and tech is filled with cycles. Maybe you don't get to be the next Gates or Jobs, but you could still be the next Larry Ellison or Michael Dell. I'd also remind everyone that tech is a fickle mistress, and that only about twelve years ago Steve Case was the conquering hero when AOL merged with Time Warner. Don't be depressed -- stay hungry, stay foolish!


It's also good to realize that beyond about 50 million I doubt any person would even know what to do with that much money.... you basically end up donating a lot of it unless you are hellishly greedy


It seems as humans we jump on any chance to beat ourselves up for not doing, being, or having something.

Oh, I don't have a $1B company, I've got to beat myself up about it. Oh, I'm older than So and So 20 year old who sold his company for $15M. Oh, I'm too young to have the right experience to really tap into this niche. Oh, I spent too much on college and now have all this debt and need to get a real job instead of starting my business. Oh, I didn't go to college and everyone else my age has great connections from it.

Just stop playing A you lose, B you lose.


A reminder I find useful: Code, not anger.

Find yourself annoyed about something "unfair?" Focus on a problem you can actually fix instead.

If you find yourself upset about kids who went to a $40k/year private high school winning the world, just re-focus your attention on what you can do now. Code. Fix. Help a real person. Get out of your own head for a while.

Success and growth are fueled by output. Running circles in your mind about our broken world only serves to make you more efficient at feeling angry. Use your limited conscious hours every day to make the world a quantitatively better place.

Alternatively, http://www.zefrank.com/theshow/whipass/


This basic principle, condensed into a comic: http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2347

A smart way to avoid this is to realize that sometimes "your brain wants to feel bad, so it's determined to find a reason to feel that way." If you were feeling great and now feel awful because of a thought (or reading unrelated news), then this is probably what happened.


This is a good companion piece to another recent HN post:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3991122

I've found two axioms to hold true:

1) Don't compare your life to anyone's. Just don't. Comparing any two lives is fundamentally apples to oranges, because each life is its own thing.

2) Once you've got the bottom tier of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs covered well enough where you can feel assured that it'll stay covered, money doesn't buy much happiness.


Great article and admittedly is how I feel sometimes as well. The day I heard of the $1B Instagram acquisition was a cloudy day for me since I also founded a photo social network over 4 years ago that is humming along slowly.

In Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman there is a section on media and how it mostly, and understandably, reports the more interesting edge cases. However a side effect of this causes the majority of people to believe car crashes are more common than heart attacks and often leads to poor judgements by utilization of the availability heuristic (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Availability_heuristic). The take home message for me is keep on keeping on.


Not having a billion dollars is depressing for you?

This takes first world problems to a whole new level.


It's much more subtle. The problem isn't money. The problem is: "it could have been me!" "Why didn't I do this?"

We were all sapient when this mess started. (Hell, it's still starting. When the iPhone launched, Blackberry had 10 million devices in the entire world (sold over 8 years). Apple sold over 70 million iPhones in the past two quarters. We're still very much in the technology up and to the right phase.)

Back to the depressing bit -- you must face the fact you did not do this. You are not rich. You must admit to yourself they won because they were either: first, smarter, or they cheated. It's easy to say they cheated. They stole data. They "hacked." They lied on contracts. They ignored authority and did it anyway. They had their magical parent funds to fall back on (see: microsoft). We are not them, but that means we can blindside them next time.

With the saturation of technology, companies providing ego-level services seem important because it's what brains will gravitate towards. With the saturation of technology, we get these never-before-seen billion user companies. The first is unique, then it becomes passé.

Let them figure the basics out then zoom past them next time. Remember: companies are slow moving monuments to failure. Use their size against them.

Life isn't fair. If "teh social" is the most important accomplishment of humanity (you would think based on how much people talk about it), please shoot me now. As for me, I'm still betting on PointCast.


Money is simply a metric of how people value you. It is a little disheartening to know that nobody cares about what you are doing when you've poured in so much effort.

It's not that anyone actually needs billions of dollars, but if you are not making millions/billions of dollars, you start to question what is wrong with you that causes people to not care, when they obviously do care about these other people.


Flaw in your logic: They probably don't care about those people either. They only value the product. It is not the same thing.


It's not really logic though, just irrational human emotion. If we could look at it logically, we'd realize that $1B makes you no better than $1M, or $100K, or even less than that.


I don't agree. I am the type of person who thinks exactly like that. If I am doing badly at a videogame, clearly the game hates me. People like me probably invented gods/religion. I take things personally. Not everyone does. I had to explicitly explain this type of view to my oldest son. He views things in terms of cause and effect rather than "motive".

It is something on my mind a lot here lately. I have serious financial problems and have for quite a long time. A few months ago, I ended up homeless. The amount of money I need to clean up my financial mess is a drop in the bucket compared to what I am saving American tax payers by getting myself and my sons well. Saying that almost never gets me any support online. What seems to get some support is when I say my webites will cease to exist because I can't afford it. Donations have kept them online for three years.

In other words, people care about my work. But they mostly don't care about me personally. That has its good points and bad points but is counterintuitive for me. I'm a bleeding heart who cares too damn much about other people.

Edit: Let's a do a little experiment to make my point. I currently have 23 cents in the bank and I don't know how I and my sons will survive (as in get enough to eat) for the rest of the month. Do you and other people give a damn about me? Enough to donate money on my sites? (Call the goal of this experiment $500 this weekend.)

I am guessing the answer is a resounding "NO". I am guessing you will be the first person to prove me right and not give me one thin dime.


I'm not in debt(yet), but I'm also in the position of "haven't really earned" and it's definitely pinching me, although I'm failing less each time, which is keeping me motivated.

But your guess is accurate. People want to be hands-on, social, and specific, so "I am poor and need money to survive" is a extremely truthful, realistic story that markets poorly. The story they like is the one where it has a dialogue with more specific, concrete elements: "I liked this site so much, I gave money to help keep it running..." They also adore having a foe to fight against or a person who becomes some kind of representative of a cause.

All the techniques of fiction could be employed to make the work you already have(which clearly has some value) feel like something people should contribute further to - nothing actually fake or untruthful is necessary, it just means finding a certain way in which to tell the story. At the end of it, people become inclined to give a donation, fund the writing of a book, etc. The product itself often isn't at the core of motivation to buy, so much as "I want to finish the story being told."


The thing that most annoys me about the situation is that I am saving American tax payers potentially millions and cannot find a means to cover a few 10k in debts. I was a military wife for two decades. Although I am divorced, as long as I do not remarry, I am entitled to essentially free medical care through the military. But I have not seen a doctor in nearly six years and it feels like I am basically being punished for doing the right thing even though this did not just benefit me and my kids but is clearly significantly benefitting society. Further, being homeless and mired in trying to just survive is an active obstacle to trying to further develop my sites. American tax payers could benefit millions more if I could get backing/assistance.

I am not a "charity case" -- I.e. just a waste of money. I have something of significant value to offer the world but I need help to make it happen. Unfortunately, it looks and sounds like I am a charity case, simply because what I pulled off fell outside the paradigms currently in use and the assistance I need does not fit neatly into a VC/ startup investment type model.


Just an FYI re the experiment: I did get one donation, which I very much appreciate, but it falls far short of $500 and one lone nice person caring suggests the exception to the rule. When I think back on the Jonathan's Card experiment, where people donated hundreds so other upperclass folks could use expensive phones to get a free cup of coffee,( http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2877779), I think I have made my point* that people mostly spend money on things that have some percieved benefit to themselves and not because they "care".

* Though technically the weekend is not over, still this is likely long gone from the front page and won't be read by too many more people.


I think I have made my point that people mostly spend money on things that have some percieved benefit to themselves and not because they "care".

That is a given. That is why it is irrational. The fact remains that every dollar given to you feels like someone cares.

I've talked before that I do a little farming on the side. That is some of the most satisfying work I do because there are people - metaphorically - lined up to buy every last morsel I can produce. It feels like the whole world cares about what I'm doing, even if in reality they just want to satisfy their hunger.

But, as I wrote earlier, we are irrational emotional beings. That feeling is what drives us, no matter how foolish it may be when looked at logically.


Again, I do not agree. Emotion or "caring" is a different type of information processing, but that doesn't make it divorced from logic. Emotion is a form of memory and it helps people make snap decisions.

I have two ASD sons. I have read, thought about, and discussed such things quite a lot.

Take care.


I've read many of your comments on HN over the months (years?) and I know it doesn't amount to anything that can help you, but you have my sympathy. I know what it's like to wonder where your next meal will come from, with things beyond your control preventing you from earning a traditional living.

Have you published any of your medical insights as Kindle ebooks?


Thanks.

No, I have not done an ebook. I am currently trying to declare bankruptcy and gradually develop my sites as I am able. It is very slow going. If you have any ability to direct traffic to them, that could wind up being meaningful.


Bingo. When we hear or read about a success, most people don't admire that person - we get jealous and rationalize how they got lucky. It's no different than if/when you become a success. People won't magically admire you or think you're da man.


The title was simply meant to get your attention. If you read the whole article the advice given could be applied to anyone working at or running a tech company who is frustrated with their life.

You might be surprised to know that many people in third world countries are frustrated with their lives too. For example there are multiple Asian countries with higher suicide rates than the US and Canada.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_suicide_ra...

If anything this kind of venting and sharing is a healthy coping mechanism.


It's less about the billion dollars and more about continuing to work without submitting to the temptation of comparison.


I especially agree with the part about going for walks. I work from home a lot, and I walk to CVS to buy something almost every day, just so I can get out of the house. Amazing what 15 minutes without a screen in your face can do for your mental clarity.


Having just got to the end of a frustrating couple of days and realising I haven't left the house since Tuesday, I totally endorse this.

And on that note, I'm going out.


Totally. And using the freedom of this time for any exercise has been incredibly useful for this too. It's awesome having the the gym practically to yourself in the middle of a weekday :)


I try walking outside too after sitting in front of a screen for hours in a row. When I do, I just marvel at all the colors around me. Wow.. treees.. ooh flowers! cool!


I know how that feels. Last year when I was a single founder, I went to a startup-founder "health" event at 500 Startups, and one of the speakers (ex-Zynga corp dev guy, Bret) gave a talk. Since he's the one acquiring companies, he mentioned how sometimes founders made money still found a way to be unhappy. Going from $0 to $10M is huuuuuge, but after a short while they're depressed that it isn't $100M.

It sounded like he has went through a lot himself, and he recommended the audience a book, which I bought, read, re-read, and still read a few pages a day today - and it really helps. Don't let the cover fool you, this has nothing to do with preaching about religion (I remain agnostic). I can't recommend it enough: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0062512943?ie=UTF8&tag=...



I learned a long time ago that you should never be jealous of anyone else's life and was reminded of this again (in a sad way) with the passing of Steve Jobs last year.


Very true. Have you read his biography? One of the things that also struck me the most in there is how often Steve seemed depressed even with all the "success". He seemed to be crying in so many stories. Even after every revolutionary thing he had accomplished, the launch of the iPad 1 made him depressed, because it just couldn't match his expectations.

Another reminder that no matter how much you achieve or obtain, all of us have a sense of ambition that can easily ruin our happiness if we don't keep it in proper control.


I haven't but I'm not too surprised. I don't think the ambition ever goes away. The reward of having as much of an impact as he did must be tangible. The money, probably not so much, after a certain point.


Next on Hacker News: Avoiding Depression While Actually Running a $1B Company


If only...


The problem is that there seems to be only one definition for success (lots of money and being talked about in the news) and we tend to compare ourselves and others against that measure of success. Running a lifestyle business and creating a handful of jobs, taking care of your family and friends, helping the needed, being an excellent teacher, having an healthy lifestyle, (insert here what makes you get up in the morning) are also huge successes, they just don't make the news.


Depends if you want the fame and kudos (and stress!) that comes with leading one of these companies. I know the feeling you're describing but have come to realize I'd much rather have, say, a $5m/year revenue doing something I love in peace than to be running some giant megacorp. Of course, still quite a way to go on that one for me.. ;-)


I think I could put up with it for a year or so. That's all I'd need to be financially independent for the rest of my life.


My thoughts exactly :) Even, $5m/y is far above my threshold.


Well yeah, I just pulled that number out of nowhere ;-) Thinking about it more seriously, it'd be closer to one!


Yes, one million would be perfect actually for us :)

Let's see how it goes.


Yes it would be hard to get by with less than $1 million/yr.


We're in a thread talking about personal success and ambition, not what we need to survive.


As the 37signals guys put it: "What happened to building million dollar companies? It's all about making a billion dollar companies these days". So, seriously. If my company made a million a year I'd be the happiest bloke in the world!


You say that now. Not so easy to say once your company has been making a million a year for a while.


Yeah, but if your company is making a million dollars per year and you aren't happy, then making a billion dollars a year wouldn't make you happy either. At that point, you're well past the point where money buys happiness.


A million is not a lot of money.


Yes it is, but it's not a grotesque amount of money.

Anyway, the whole point is that having enough money that money is not a major point of stress in your life will help you to be happy, but beyond that it starts to anticorrelate. If you have founded a company that is making a million a year (I'm assuming we're talking about profit and not revenue), and money is a major point of stress in your life, your best bet (in terms of personal happiness) is to change your lifestyle so that you're living within those means.

Keep in mind, 99% of individuals in the world make less than $50k/year.


I have mixed feelings about this post. The advice is good, but the tone is negative. Ironically, I'd suggest the advice be relied upon if one became wealthy.

On the one hand is the hubris of it all. Dejected over not being a billionaire? More so than money, what one needs in that context is perspective.

I have colleagues, friends and business partners who fall in the category of highly financially successful. Extreme wealth comes with more trouble than one might expect. Anonymity? Good luck with that. Jealousy from friends? A lot. Thrill quotient goes way, way WAY up? Like clockwork. Your personality changes? Big time. Still feel unfulfilled? Almost guaranteed. Biggie was right -- mo money, mo problems.

On the other hand is dealing with your goals, and whether or not you have attained them. If your goal is to acquire a billion dollars...well, shoot for higher ground (not higher dollars.) Financial happiness and comfort is one thing, but a specific number has more to do with ego. Money, as a goal, just doesn't equate to feelings of accomplishment. Instead, set your goals to non-financial things; it's the only way one can ever really satisfy those feelings of reward.

BTW, all those I've know who generated their own wealth did so without a primary focus of acquiring wealth -- it was a byproduct of their actions. They were driven by something else, the money was just a consequence.


In some ways, this post really hits a nerve for me. In other ways, I cannot relate at all.

On the one hand, the crap in my head is literally worth billions (annual medical care costs for the 30,000 people with cystic fibrosis is roughly $3 billion a year by my best guestimate or about $1.5 billion a year if you accept the low ball estimate of some article I read). Yet I am currently deeply in debt and homeless.

Am I depressed? Not really, because I and my sons are healthy when that is not supposed to be possible. And that alone is worth millions, even if no one else benefits. But I am frothing at the mouth frustrated that a) I can't resolve my financial problems even though they are a drop in the bucket compared to what the medical expenses alone "should" be and b) I cannot seem to make much headway towards spreading the word.

Yet, I also wrestle with valid concerns about self protection. Revealing myself tends to get strong reactions from people, both positive and negative. Those strong reactions can be potentially dangerous.

Still trying to work it all out, in my head and in practical terms.


This is a great and much-needed article. Before I moved to SF, I lived in Seattle and had to make an effort to get more involved in tech. In SF, things are reversed: with a roommate in YC, another at Getaround, and a startup of my own, it takes work to escape it.

As a community, I think we should discuss this (mental health in the echo chamber) a lot more.


I think it helps to remember that the most influential (or smartest, etc.) people in history didn't have a whole lot of resources. Compare Shakespeare and Nietzsche to Vanderbilt and Rockefeller. Will anyone care about the latter two in 100 years? If you're chasing fame or "impact", building Google might not be the answer.


Compare Shakespeare and Nietzsche to Vanderbilt and Rockefeller.

In what regards? If the metric is "who got laid more?" then I'm guessing Vanderbilt and Rockefeller win. If it's "who left more of a mark on history," then sure, Nietzsche and Shakespeare, hands down. So the question is, what's your priority?


Thanks for the post. You put it into perspective for me really. Been feeling abit down over the past few days obsessing about how I should've worked harder instead of fooling around with my time. I have a full-time job and I take school part-time but I'm still trying to push myself in hopes of bootstrapping a startup.


"A couple of years ago, I realized that I was not the material of which great artists are made and that I was rather glad I wasn't. And since then I have been happier simply to do the work and to take the reward at the end of every day that is given for a day of honest work." - John Steinbeck in August 1933


To be quite honest, those valuations are probably way WAY to high. After all, Facebook just went public so that 100 billion dollar valuation is probably stretching it since companies are starting realize that Facebook adds generate little value.

Its good that you have a sense of perspective about this and you don't let the money aspect go to your head. After all, I find it enormously grotesque that these Internet companies are valued so high since one change of management or one new thing can make you become obsolete (MySpace and Yahoo are good examples).

Don't let it get to you, the whole point is that you have your own business and its still there. You can also just think of it as $100 billion of inflated currency. (21.8% to be exact when Facebook was created in 2004 to now).


Instagram and Pinterest are looking like the peak right now. Neither of them would get that valuation next week.


Honestly don't like billion being mentioned too many times on this page (perhaps it is because the article itself says it).

I am reminded of what Derek Sivers said sometime after the movie 'Social Network' came out. 'A billion dollars is not cool, you know what's cool ... A million dollars'. (can't find in which video he said that)

I believe nobody can plan to be a billionaire. But people can plan to be millionaires. And I think the blog post does articulate a healthy way of doing it. But I wonder, why would a person feel depressed at all about not being a billionaire. I think its foolish to even dream about it, really.

But, if you just find yourself being one anyway, good then, deal with it. Else, try to be a millionaire, and then take it as it comes.


Just tweeted this to the author and thought I cross-post it here as well: Wonderful piece, I just had those same thoughts in the midst of all this facebook IPO frenzy... stay hungry, humble, and healthy! (Hmm, I can call it the three H's :))


It seems strange that a good data prediction company (Inkling) couldn't become a huge growth company with a $1 billion+ valuation. Obviously this is an arm chair opinion but it seems like the author would like to be in the position of these other companies, so presumably the reason for not is due to some combination of business, market, etc.. Which is the part I don't entirely agree on. Inkling seems like a great idea in a market that people and companies would pay big bucks for if you're good at it, am I wrong?


I can highly recommend NOT following the "Read the newspaper" and applying the same for TV/Radio. Most of what is broadcasted is negative news. I rather live in a happy fun place.


Is beeing rich the only goal of an entrepreneur ? It that was true the world would be full of depressed people. I would suggest to pick a goal that is achievable to avoid a persistant frustration later.

Another point is that the impression to be trapped in an unsatisfying situation can also lead to depression. Anticipate a way out. Build a company that doesn't depend on you to run it and that leaves you free time to try other ideas. You won't be trapped.


Thanks for posting this. I kind of needed it. Recent projects are getting pretty tough, to the point of looking for a supplementary job, and the job search itself isn't any easier.

I'm not in any kind of "bad spot" mentally, but it is reassuring to know that I'm not the only one who feels somewhat unaccomplished in light of the incessant tech news chaos.


I'll tell you what I came here to tell the author of the post. You should read "Fooled by Randomness" by Nicholas Nassim Taleb. One of the major points of the book is that wealth that comes fast usually leaves fast, and wealth that is built slowly is usually harder to lose. This is a natural consequence of the "hidden histories"—the probabilities in play.

It's not sexy, but building your wealth slowly is a better way to live.


Or stated in another way: just do something you love and aim high.

The author lists a lot of good points but it boils down to "keeping it real" and keeping your friends, family, and personal life at arm's reach.

"Avoiding Depression While Not Running a $1B Company" just sounds a bit extreme.


I know that I just can't compete. So I focus on working.

$1B? I can't even fathom that much money.


Dude. It is ok. The huge valuation these guys had for their flippant startup in 2012 will be of little importance in the long run, and when we are on our deathbeds.


Or just try not to do it for the money and/or fame. But that of course is easier said than done for many out there already.


[deleted]


That is a weird thing to want.

So is wanting a six-foot tall, red-headed super-model with a Scottish accent. But I still want one. And if I ran a billion dollar company, I might A. be able to spend time searching the world for one, and B. actually woo her (even if she does just like me for my money). So, yeah, I want something weird, indirectly, because I want something even weirder. Weird, huh?


Love this post! Needed to be said and resaid, as many times as we hear 'Go $1B or Kill Yourself!'




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