Important people and the Power-Law Rule


Sometime last week, Barnacle’s CEO updated our CrunchBase page to indicate that we had closed a large funding round.

Since then, we have been flooded with phone calls and messages. Media personalities giving us a shout-out. Suppliers offering free samples. Recruiters pimping their best candidates.

VCs who previously wouldn’t give us the time of day now want to meet with us. All of a sudden, everyone is so nice to us.

Nobody achieves success alone. We need customers, investors, connections. The higher the stepping stone the better. Meritocracy? We’re too busy trying to impress the rich and important people to pay attention to merit. As a result, the ones who receive the most servility are those who need it least.

For competitor research, I’ve been calling up companies pretending to be a private equity manager. Or I pretend to be an obscenely wealthy angel investor. Reps who ordinarily hang up on me quickly pass my call to the CEO.

Quick tip for startup founders: If you want to find out what the competition is doing, call them and say you want to invest in them. Tell them you’re a partner at Andreessen Horowitz or something (what are they gonna do, check?) — and watch how quickly they open their legs for you.

Goldman Sachs sums it up best in item 8 of their ten commandments: Important people like to deal with other important people. Are you one?


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