Mark Pincus is an inspiration to startup entrepreneurs that are in the social gaming market. He recently had a conversation with Brad Stone at BusinessWeek to discuss how his shortcomings made him the man he is today.
Pincus launched two companies in the 1990’s and ended up not doing so well on both of them. He was running a social networking startup in 2003 called Tribe.net. The take-away from that experience is that when running Zynga, he pushes to fail fast, look at the data, and move on. He failed to do that at Tribe.net. They had come up with ideas based on intuition and it would take three to six months to launch.
Tribe hit the point where investors gave up and resigned from the board. The company ended up being Pincus, his team, and a creditor. They ended up selling the company to Cisco and paid back all of the debt.
One thing I learned is that while your vision should never change, you should keep trying different strategies until one works. If you can fine-tune your instinct and have confidence in it, then you can keep taking different bites of the apple and keep approaching the problem in different ways until you get it right. I did that with Tribe, pursuing the social opportunity from multiple angles. I invested in Twitter and Facebook and bought a social networking patent in 2004.
I think failing is the best way to keep you grounded, curious, and humble. Success is dangerous because often you don?t understand why you succeeded. You almost always know why you?ve failed. You have a lot of time to think about it.