Earlier this week Sachin Rekhi published a post titled “The PayPal Wars and its Lessons for Todays Entrepreneurs.” In it, Sachin provided an adroit summary of five key lessons he gathered from my book, The PayPal Wars: Battles with eBay, the Media, the Mafia, and the Rest of Planet Earth, which I’m rewording slightly:
- Couple your long-term vision with obtainable short-term goals
- Assemble an A-team
- Push decision-making down the org chart
- Success doesn’t come easy
- Platform dependence = risk
While one could distill many lessons from an experience as tumultuous as PayPal’s, I think Sachin has it about right. I highly recommend you read his original post, where he summarizes his thinking about each item on the list. The only thing I’d add is a sixth principle, which is critical for entrepreneurs to understand:
6. Success prompts attacks. I’m not just talking about the entrance of new competitors into the marketplace (which is a good thing, since competition fuels the “creative destruction” that is the primary driver of economic growth). Instead, I’m cautioning about the entire eco-system of lawyers, regulators, politicians, and media hacks that have an incentive to destroy rather than create. We saw this at PayPal, where an onslaught by Eliot Spitzer, patent trolls, and class action lawyers hit us as soon as the company reached profitability and filed for an IPO. Instead of encouraging the risk-taking that’s needed to fuel entrepreneurship, many aspects of the U.S. legal and regulatory system punish it. Entrepreneurs need to be prepared.