Answer by Sae Min Ahn(안세민):

This is not specifically for software engineers but I believe this applies for the many young hopefuls walking into their first company.
  • Falling more in love with the company than the job: Probably one of the biggest mistakes I made. I truly believed that if I got into the company I wanted, I would eventually find the role that was right for me. What was more painful was that I gave up an amazing role in a different company because I liked the branding of my-then-employer
  • Believing that my manager had all the answer and provided consistently right guidance: One of the hardest and disappointing lessons I had to learn but soon came to realize was the most valuable. I had a manager that I truly trusted and believed in. Whatever she told me I believed was canon and infallible. It turned out she was just as clueless as I was and had a tenancy for emotional abuse when things got hectic or too hot to handle
  • Believing that having a black and white viewpoint on business execution was the right path: This was actually an issue – I hope it isn't anymore – with a lot of the Korean companies at the time. They try to indoctrinate the new grad into thinking that their competitor is "the enemy" or even portray them as "evil" in an irrational mantra. I'm sure it was to gain short-term loyalty, but for a lot of people I know, they picked up a really bad habit of emotionally expending too much time "hating" on their rivals and not thinking enough about the bigger picture of things
  • Believing that I would start doing "cool shit" day one of my job: This was a funny time in my life as I thought I could take on the world and make the company revenue chart hit a neck breaking hockey stick vector. I soon came to realize I had little applicable skills and had to really learn how to plan, prioritize and execute. Each step was like pulling a tooth but hey, I'm here aren't I?

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Answer by Sae Min Ahn(안세민):

There are a laundry list of things you can do to "maintain control" of your company. This is not close to a comprehensive list but things such as the below can be a guiding light:

  • Giving up smallest percentage possible of your company and maintain majority stake
  • Carve out where/why/how liability, warranty, indemnification clauses reflect on decision making activities
  • Open up transfer of shares to both preferred and common shareholders as to give chance in "consuming-back" shares in company at later date/time
  • Segmenting business undertaking obligations to restrictive covenants to minimize legal oversight
  • Incorporate in different geography/region/jurisdiction in arbitration rights that either puts investor at a disadvantage or founder at relative vantage point
  • Different voting multiples for founder share class

Good luck finding an investor you can push your way into even on a couple of the above ;)

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Answer by Sae Min Ahn(안세민):

For me, the rejection alone is a valuable feedback data point the founders should take into account; if there is consistent red-flagging by VCs in similar vertical areas, that is a telling sign there might need to be a course calibration.

On a personal level, there are different degrees of "no"s and I suspect other VCs will be on a similar trajectory of reaction:

  1. Some startups are playing in a very disparate field that is just out of my comfort zone; in this case I'll give a definitive "no" as I do not want to waste the founder's energy/resources on me
  2. Some startups I like a lot but may be too mature or relatively far gone – essentially I'm in the course of becoming "dumb money" – in the process for me to smoothly push to my board; I'll make sure I take time to call up contacts and see if there are colleagues who can support such a deal
  3. Some startups I like a lot but seem to have specific deficits – that I see – in either product, tech or overall roadmap; in such cases I'll make sure to track them throughout the months, provide them with connections, product brain-storming sessions with me or people I know and talk them through decisions making issues that might pop up

In the case of #3 especially, I try to turn that passive "no" into a "yes" over time – which I actually have for several investments – as they optimize their product/service and fit for market.

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Answer by Sae Min Ahn(안세민):

Well with most business decisions it comes down to an amalgam of factors. Some investors will indeed try to take the whole ticket for specific strategic and/or financial reasons.

For the reasons why an investor might want followers/or be followers would be as below but not limited to:

  1. Wanting funds or angels that have deeper domain knowledge, connections to join the fold to increase chances of said investment going "well"
  2. Specific fund execution policies that restrict single party investment; some government-as-LP funds require the VC firm to have joining parties either in certain liquidity volume or entity number
  3. The VC firm has historical behavior of not investing alone and leaning on collective social proofing; more often than not this also has a lot of semantic relation to LP-board approval
  4. Required capital goes over their reserves so follow-ons are sourced

The lead investors depending on comparative liquidity size – of other participants – could get a board seat, have specific holding/veto rights – matters requiring investing majority consent -, BOD attendance in some cases cannot occur without the existing lead – somewhat standard fair, etc.

Good luck,

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Answer by Sae Min Ahn(안세민):

I'm not sure what you mean by "your VC" in this context.

If you mean a VC "who has invested in your company" and said person/organization has invested in a third party that is in acute competitive vector to your company:

  • I'd first ask; what is the operating ratio communi(normal operating procedure) for your geography? For me this might look like an issue rife with conflict of interest and investor/founder trust but then again, it was only recently – over the past 2 years – I realized that full ratchet anti-dilution was fairly common in China. There are different strokes for different verticals, geography, folks, etc
  • If you are in a region and vertical where this is indeed considered atypical, you should have a heart to heart with your VC; sometimes things are not what they seems and if the VC had enough faith to invest in your company, please give him/her/them a modicum of trust before coming to a conclusion
  • If the VC has done it without regard for your company, well that's a learning experience for you. If possible it would be good to add an addendum to your SHA – IMHO – to note said position of both VC and founder/s, clearly re-stating how each party would operate
  • After the above, if I were a founder I'd take advantage of the situation as much as possible from having more lateral decision making capability with the new occurrence to siphoning information from the VC about said competition

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Answer by Sae Min Ahn(안세민):

There needs to be an articulation on how this works. 20%, to many of the employees is a concept, not something that is quantified as such; if you finish your work or hit your OKRs and still have 50% time left, you can have "50% time".

That being said, Google is still a corporation with people managing people, so depending on who you report up to, you could openly talk about the X% you were working on or be a little bit more discrete about it.

I was on both sides of the fence where in sales, being very active in business development AFTER I hit 120% of my sales quota had VERY adverse effects on my ratings, promotion velocity. On the other hand, that "50% time" was what enabled me to get accepted into the business development organization as a person who could execute.

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Answer by Sae Min Ahn(안세민):

(Written 2014 Feb)

As of now, I think Whatsapp has many competitors as the base utility it provides – and executes very well – is so core for contemporary communication. But to me the core utility is also what makes its platform – or lack thereof – vulnerable to not siloed competitors but to ecosystem owners/proprietors.

Referencing the above, Whatsapp's biggest competitor will be Google, especially when users:
1. Change their Phone
2. Upgrade their OS
3. Versions of Google Play Services roll out

Currently, the tech giant is in the midst of laser focused, OS ecosystem-level consolidation of function, UX, and monetization platform.

To this, one of their largely unnoticed but critical modification – on KitKat – was giving users the option to set Hangout as the default SMS app. This "soft opt-in" is branded as an "improvement" but should strike a nervous chord with Whatsapp.

Here’s the full Google Hangouts 2.0 for Android changelog:

  • SMS & MMS (Android 4.0+): Send/receive text messages with Hangouts! You can import your existing messages, quickly switch between SMS and Hangouts, and start group MMS conversations.
  • Animated GIFs: send animated GIFs, cute kittens and all.
  • Location: share a location in your conversations.
  • Device, in-call, mood status: share what device you’re on, whether you’re on a call, or your current mood.

If you have a Nexus 5, Hangouts is your default text SMS app. Surprise!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_i0-PMuUGBg
The same simplicity that enabled the platform to gain immense traction equally enables player like Google to build parity products which they can push to the entire Android userbase via Google Play Services.

As some indication, we see people talking about "Why Google Hangouts is now the preferred SMS app"

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