Startups ‘Push the Flywheel’ Longer than They Admit

(p. A8) Some startups that spend years developing their product say the clock doesn’t start with those years. They count time from the day they came upon a solution that worked–never mind time spent looking for ideas or toiling at approaches that failed.
Milpitas, Calif.-based View Inc., which makes window glass that changes tint electronically, incorporated as Echromics and was in development as early as 2007. When its first technical approach failed, almost the entire staff turned over, said CEO Rao Mulpuri. He took over in December 2008.
A spokeswoman says the company considers 2009–the year it made breakthroughs that made its product possible–as the year it “really started its journey.” The company changed its name to View in 2012.
When it comes to the question of founding a company, Mr. Mulpuri says, “there’s a technical answer, which is the official answer. When was the company founded in the state of Delaware? But as a team, it’s not as simple as that.”
Silicon Valley investors are used to the idea that a “pivot” or new name takes off the years like a shot of Botox–though not all are thrilled.
David Gurle, chief executive of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Symphony Communication Services LLC, isn’t amused by startups that play the age game.
He founded private-messaging startup Perzo in 2012. After Symphony, another startup, acquired it in 2014, it began targeting financial-services clients. He proudly cites 2012 as Symphony’s founding year, despite its permutations.
“If you told me that a flower only started growing when it was out of the earth, then I would say, ‘No, it’s already been growing,'” Mr. Gurle said.

For the full story, see:
Patience Haggin. “Forever Young: Tech Startups, Like Hollywood Celebrities, Fudge Their Age; To look like overnight successes, new companies are playing around with their origin stories.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., Aug. 12, 2017): A1 & A8.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date Aug. 11, 2017, and has the title “The Secret to Startup Success? Fudge Your Age; To look like overnight successes, new companies are playing around with their origin stories.” The passages quoted from the online version, above, are about a sentence and a half longer than the similar passages in the print version.)

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