Blitzscale lesson 2: Sam Altman

Founding teams

  • Fatal conflicts
    • looking at having different vision
    • looking at having the same role
  • complementary pairs
    • technical owner
    • business / product owner

Best startups

  • hired the least
  • more people less effective
  • 70 productive hours –
    • focus those hours on users
    • focus on getting a really small number of users that really love the product

Best founders

  • The ability to clearly articulate the vision of what they are trying to do
    • easier to recruit
    • easier to promote
    • easier to raise fund
  • determined
  • passionate
  • intelligence
  • Effective in execution

Early stage investing

  • network effects at play

Reason to launch quickly

  • gain conviction
  • Recognize a shift in the world
  • see that people are constantly using the app over and over again even when being ridiculed by the masses
  • figure our core metric that gets better 10% each week


  • Found an opportunity that worked
  • Built the stuff that you originally wanted to work
  • Found an opportunity that could be monetized
  • A rush to get an idea is very bad! If original idea is bad. Shut down the company, return the money and go travel the world for an organic idea


  • The only most valuable pre-start experience is to join a really successful rapidly growing company so that you get put into different roles that you don’t have much experience yet for

Most critical mistake

  • Not firing bad people fast enough
    • it hurts both the company and the employee by keeping them around longer
    • the employee will stagnate during the time he is with the company
    • explain clearly and be firm in the decision that the employee needs to go
    • allow the employee to communicate his needs prior to departure
      • he could work from home while looking for a new position
      • he could state that he is still working for the company while looking for a new position
      • preparing the termination letter prior to communication only creates a highly adversarial environment

Time window

  • You only have a relatively short window of 20 years to be great.
    • between 25 – 45 years old
    • focus on the one single problem that you really find important and want to solve
    • learn how to become a great CEO then or
    • join a company whose mission you really care about


  • An employee should consider the valuation of the company 5 years down the road and how many percent of the valuation he owns.
  • current valuation for a position that is illiquid is only a distraction
  • valuation only means something when someone else is willing to pay for the shares at that valuation

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