This comment resonated with me.
Started blogging a few yrs ago, then dropped it.
1) ain't nobody have time for that.
2) too fraught in general. Supposed to be face of company so can't really say anything interesting in a blog.
3) and that Dalton kid posting the millionth "MBA and startups" article: who gives a fuck, what's the use, hire good people that fit... Don't engage in navel gazing analysis.
There are a few companies and people that stand out immediately: 37signals, Joel Spolsky, Jeff Attwood, Priceonomics and probably a bunch more that I just don't pay attention to.
The last three really come to mind because blogging is pretty important to their companies. A large reason that StackOverflow had a strong audience from day one is that both Spolsky and Attwood had good followings on their blogs.
Leo W. at Buffer - http://blog.bufferapp.com/author/leo
Ryan Carson at Treehouse - http://ryancarson.com/
Jason Fried & DHH - http://37signals.com/svn
Matt Mullenweg - http://ma.tt/
Patio11 - http://www.kalzumeus.com/
Dalton Caldwell of App.net - http://daltoncaldwell.com/
Suhail Doshi of Mixpanel - http://sufficientlyadvanced.net/
Jack Groetzinger of SeatGeek - http://jackg.org/
Eric Koester of Zaarly - http://ekoester.com/
Craig Newmark - http://craigconnects.org/blog
Mark Cuban - http://blogmaverick.com
Tim O'Reilly - http://radar.oreilly.com/tim
Yeah, I'm pretty sure evidence to the contrary is stronger. A little googling tells me C-levels and founders of forbes 100 are often proflic bloggers. Novell, Cisco, Oracle, a lot of founders of big companies in India, and many here in the non-tech sector blog as well.
Insofar as commenting on HN and other similar sites is quite similar to blogging, there's a lot of others here too.
Also on some of the other folks listed in sibling comments, like Richard Branson, I'd be very surprised if he were the one posting on the Virgin "blog" under his name. Just as executives and politicians have speechwriters, they also have exec comm and marketing staff to write blog posts.
Collis Ta'eed of Envato — http://notes.envato.com/author/collis/, http://inside.envato.com
Dan Shipper - http://danshipper.com/
1) time. Running and growing a successful company is an enormous sink of time, energy, mindshare, etc.
2) completeness of thoughts. I don't like to blog about stuff where I don't really know what I'm talking about. That unfortunately is also the most interesting stuff I could blog about at the moment. However, since it's still unfolding and the results of my decisions will take 6+ months or even years to arrive, it's difficult to make a cogent blog post about those decisions. Hindsight is a valuable tool for insight, but I'm still in the middle of all these things.
I'm not sure what's the point of this statement. Few successful CEO's blog. Few politicians blog. Few celebrities blog. Few people blog. So what?
PG's essays are THE essays to read if you are an excellent entrepreneur - and if you are - and you make the decision to go to an accelerator - which one do you think you want to go to?
There's a hint of at least two tenuous causative implications there: if you're successful, you ought to think twice before wasting time blogging (ie. blogging by the CEO adds no value to the business). Or the corollary: if you're blogging, chances are you're not yet successful (it's a marker for lack of success). Both are reaching.
Blogging by the CEO (founder) simply means that marketing is (also) done by the CEO. The founders and CEOs who don't blog probably delegate marketing activities to specialists (nothing wrong with that). You delegate when you don't possess the skills to execute. This will probably happen when the founders or CEOs don't possess the technical knowledge or expertise about their own fields.
If using that word to describe examples that came before the word was coined is anachronistic, then surely so must be using modern English to discuss, say, the Roman Empire?
To me, the defining characteristics of the blog are as follows :
A collection of texts which are :
1 - Published incrementally as they are written, and chronologically organized.
2 - Meant to be read by a wide audience
3 - Usually not ran past an editor.
4 - Not necessarily sharing any common theme
5 - Usually all have the same author.
I cooked up this definition after noticing that the EWDs had been more or less Dijkstra's blog, long before the Web.
PG's essays obviously fall under this definition as well.
I think the defining feature of a blog that's absent from Graham's essays is that blog posts can be intentionally insubstantial, sometimes containing nothing more than a link, possibly with comments. The least substantial essay Paul Graham has written is probably the one where he clarifies that he's not a racist just because he thinks having a thick accent makes it hard to be a CEO. I don't think he would consider posting intentionally insubstantial content to his list of essays.
Edit: but maybe, if one in hundreds will think twice before writing again something like "If you are like me" in their post...
(I can't believe the one night I decided to go out with friends, this is the thread that shows up on Twitter--my wheelhouse!)
I built and bootstrapped a tech company from the ground up in the Valley. Sold it in 2007 for 7 figures. Then took my personal blog and grew it into one of the top entrepreneurship blogs online. Now running a funded startup and just completed Techstars Austin.
Now that I think about it, my blogger friends and my tech CEO/CTO friends do run in different crowds. Most of the blogger types end up writing books (Tim Ferriss is an example I think HN'ers would be familiar with.) I turned down a book deal to go back and do another tech company because that's what I love to do.
There is a trend amongst bloggers to start software companies. Clay Collins' LeadPages is a good example; he's a crossover blogger/Internet marketer turned software company CEO. He just closed $5M in funding for LeadPages led by Foundry Group.
There are a few more up-and-comers in the blog world who are crossing over into software, but so far very few have made the leap--I think because the skillset is so different.
Weird to think that I'm rare, but it's an interesting viewpoint to hear from the tech community.
LeadPages generates real revenue to the tune of >$3M/year and is funded by Foundry Group as well as other angels and VCs. It is a legitimate business.
My company is funded by 500 Startups, Techstars, and a group of angel investors. We have one product on the market that is generating significant revenue, and are launching MarketVibe, our latest product, this month.
I would agree with the general premise of "successful entrepreneurs who blog are outliers."
i.e. Not startup bubble companies, companies that actually produce something of value, either for society or in significant returns. "Lead generation" isn't one of those.
"change the world, or $1 Billion exit or 10x for series A, B investors and 5x for later."
When Hunter mentioned the CEO of LinkedIn blogs, Keith said it doesn't count because they're not a startup.
But by definition, the "unicorn" companies are all more like LI than the average startup.
Maybe the question is "at what point does a company cease to be a startup?" At a $1B valuation? Or a significant liquidity event?
What is a blog? I'd content any direct communication with the internet at large is in the intent of "blogging".
Which CEOs should count? I have no idea. But for fun lets say $100M+ valued companies.
Does frequency matter? To Keith it does but I think its beside the point.
Does it have to be written personally by the CEO? I would argue not. Many blogs (Svbtle, Medium, Sequoia's) include editing or content help.
If you use the above criteria many many many CEOs blog. From Steve Jobs' letters explaining why Apple has it's stance on Adobe to Elon Musk's discussions about cars catching on fire. Then there are the by almost any definition bloggers mentioned elsewhere in this thread.
Look at the CEOs of AirBnB, Dropbox, SpaceX, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. when they were really growing or fighting to survive. None of them seem to blog.
There are exceptions.
But to be clear: if you're a CEO doing something big, chances are you don't blog much. If at all.
Just like you don't go to a lot of conferences and become a "conference ho", as one of your better CEOs once wrote.
I would argue blogging is not a big value add to the startup itself or the CEO.
Someone wise once said, Startups = Growth.
Startups should focus on 5%+ weekly organic growth in revenues or user engagement well after Demo Day when it is much, much harder to grow at that rate.
The rest is not important. Including blogging.
Blogging is a marketing strategy. It's not always a good one (time expensive, money cheap). It also works a lot better for some people than others.
The whole exchange seems to be @rabois saying "no, that's not a startup. No, that's not what I meant by CEO. No, he doesn't count."
What's his point in making this statement, except to attract attention?
I think the point Keith is making that successful people don't have time to blog, or the blog really doesn't help that much. They prioritize their time to do things that actually matter for their business, rather than being on top of HN or being tweeted 1000 times.
It's not the whole truth. When you have actually "made it", had some successes, you don't need the promotion or visibility that much, but when you're just starting out, basically anything might help.
I Can't think of a single founder who blogged high quality original content consistently for more than two years that didn't turn his audience and readership into a successful company.
There is a massive misconception about blogging and content marketing in general that gets ignored by people. Creating content that can't be found anywhere else, content that represents the true voice of the CEO or founder and their vision is top of the funnel marketing that makes advertising and regular marketing MUCH MUCH More effective.
Content is the long game, and builds on itself one reader at a time. Eventually it breaks through and than every piece of content you produce gets massive exposure. Exposure at a much more affordable price than any other strategy that exists in the universe today.
Tomorrows leading companies will be the ones that realize they must become the media company for their niche. They must be the go to place for the best information in their industry.
Startup CEO's that don't blog are missing out on the big picture and should really learn to prioritize the value they can create.
Just look at Moz.com and Hubspot. Two great companies poised for massive growth that built their audience by blogging, one reader at a time.
This is statistical nonsense. You are unlikely to be able to think of those founders who don't have successful companies, whether they blogged or not.
In general, we are more aware of founders who blog precisely because they do that. Making a list of blogging founders is pointless unless you have a fair way of listing the non-bloggers.
My point is simply that blogging is a proven, repeatable strategy for building an audience. An audience that trusts you and is happy to give you their money.
Whereas not-blogging is at best a shaky correlation to successful ceos and their success is just as likely to be despite their not blogging than because they save two hours a week not blogging.
Obviously most "people" do not blog regularly. Whether it is CEO's of startups or chefs at top tier restaurants or whatever else you can think of. Does real questions is whether anyone have time for blogging? And the answer for the most part is no.
Yet a few people persist. People laughed at Fred Wilson when he started blogging. VC's mocked him. A decade later, every major VC started blogging and are falling over each other to start their own online entrepreneur magazine.
How is this to turn the question on Keith's head: founder CEO's that blog will in fact be a bigger deal and provide better "cost/benefit" than any other communications channel?
There will always be exceptions to this and I hope people don't read remarks like Keith's as how-to guides. It's only a pattern that fits the mold. Don't think that your time is always too precious to 'share insights & experiences' as Hunter stated. That should have its time and place as well. It's very helpful to outsiders such as myself.
Writers tend to be high-ideaphoria people. This should be pretty obvious.
In my experience, many successful businesspeople are not high-ideaphoria people. They may be very smart, talented, etc., but their tendency is toward singular focus, rather than an exploration of the interplay of ideas. So it seems natural they would tend not to write/blog. (And yes, I realize there are many exceptions, James Altucher being my favorite.)
In the resulting argument thread, he just labels as "corporate blog posts" any example of a successful entrepreneur who actually does blog.
What he's probably right about is that when they blog it's mainly about their business. But that's a very different, much more limited and not as shocking claim than "nobody successful blogs".
What does successful mean? Raised a million in funding? Sold company for a million?
What is a blog? Is a magazine/newspaper turned digital considered a blog? Does a press release written by someone else count?
What is an entrepreneur considered? Someone who just started a company (less than 1 year)? Someone who's started 40 companies over 30 years?
Probably the most well known entrepreneur blog by what is considered a highly successful entrepreneur, is Richard Branson - http://www.virgin.com/richard-branson - but as far as I can tell he doesn't actually write any of it himself.
He should have gone to sleep after that.
1) I'm a poor writer
2) Any insights that I shared would benefit my competitors and would be insignificant for customers
37signals is an outlier because their readers are potential customers
And if you think little bits of information can't help competitors, I strongly disagree. A little perspective (like where a company is focusing or where growth is coming from or whatever) can go a long way, and when you blog you are just leaking those things to everybody else.
Your readers are always potential customers.
If you think back to the 90s before "blogging" was a thing, the number of entrepreneurs who blogged was approximately 0%.
You could probably rewind to 1995 and say something like "Few successful businesses have a website" but would it naturally follow that investing in a website was a waste of time?
Still, Wikipedia manages to maintain a not-bad-for-a-first-try quality level on most science-y topics.
Until I am 100% sure what Keith means by the words "successful" and "regularly", I can't comment nor I can take anyone else's comment on such a broad statement seriously.
Wow I hate reading twitter threads, I wish there was an easier and better way to see related tweets and connect who is talking to who inline.
i hate it when a shop owner calls herself CEO, CEO should only be used for very large organizations
yet even if you own a miserably failing business (success is in the eye of the beholder), you can still call yourself entrepreneur, i think keith just overestimate the term entrepreneur
This seems like a general trend, and "CEOs and entrepreneurs" are probably just following that general trend.
The lessons on the path to success are many, and they are varied.
Interesting point, but I think it's still probably important for early stage startups to blog. It helps get them exposure and increase their luck surface area (http://www.codusoperandi.com/posts/increasing-your-luck-surf...). Things probably change when you get really big though.
Millions? Billions? Yacht & Helicopter money?