I remember walking into a job interview in 2001 at a mid-sized enterprise software company. Beautiful plaques describing the company’s core values hung from the wall -- in the reception lobby, in the meeting rooms -- seemingly everywhere I looked. They were thoughtful and well written. Unfortunately, as I learned after joining the company, they in no way reflected the actual values or behaviors of the company.
Two years later, I joined a startup called Guidewire Software (now a multi-billion dollar public company), where I would stay for the next 12 years. Building a high-integrity, high-quality culture was a passion of the six co-founders from the beginning.
"There is always somebody bigger, stronger, smarter, faster."
This was a lesson my twin brother and I were reminded of many times growing up, usually followed by “if you want to be the best, you have to be willing to work harder.” As a couple of competitive young kids, we celebrated our victories over one another with even greater intensity than was applied to the competition itself. Big fish, very small pond.
A short term misalignment despite mutual long term interests.
Many entrepreneurs and investors embrace this dictum as a reality of the fundraising process; for others, it is just good sport. “Get VC X to give you a term sheet and use it to drive up VC Y.” “Don’t tell anybody you’re talking to VC A, because if they pass, everybody is going to wonder why and back away.” “Fundraising is just like selling a home in Silicon Valley, price it to get everybody hooked, then they’ll all compete to drive up the valuation.”