Two things destroy companies: mediocrity, and making it all about yourself (#12)

I really enjoyed the TV show Halt & Catch Fire. I've watched it twice over the last few years. If you work in technology and you watch TV, I recommend it.

The early story is based on the founding of Compaq Computers, but it segues into shareware, the web, online communities, the search engine wars, venture capital, and so much more. It's a great way to feel how far this industry has come in the last forty years.

One of my favorite quotes from the show comes from its early protagonist, Joe MacMillan:

"Two things destroy companies: mediocrity, and making it all about yourself."

There's a lot of ways mediocrity can creep into a startup over time. But the biggest problem is when, from the beginning, the bar on decisions and outcomes isn't very high. This is always a problem of leadership: recognizing quality in product and people is a key trait of founders we like to back. 

Average just doesn't cut it if you want to build a large business. Your product needs to be extraordinary (in some way). And the way to build an above-average product is to hire great people. Execution advantage is a key differentiator we look for in companies.

But it's the second quote that really rings true based on my last decade in venture. Great founders are often perceived as having huge egos. But there's nothing that destroys a company as quickly as a selfish, power-hungry, greedy, or prideful founder.

The best founders we've worked with are natural servant leaders. They put the company above themselves, their people above the company, and the company in service of its mission (rather than just chasing cash). 

These are the people we seek to back, and this is why we've made this quote one of the foundational principles of Heartcore Capital


Read one for more on our principles:

#1 No fear, no greed 
#2 We're the coach, not the athlete 
#3 It is only with the heart that one can see rightly
#4 Energy attracts like energy
#5 “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
#6 "Love people, not things. Use things, not people.
#7 Ask, don't tell.
#8 "Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be generous; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men."
#9 The best way to teach is to listen. The best way to lead is to be.
#10 “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
#11 "Great product wins"