If there is one thing common to most of us, it is that we are part of a Company. Be it a startup or an established one, be it small or big, be it a local one or a global multinational, the Company is where we spend the better part of our adult lives. It is the mechanism through which we effect change (or get changed), where we build relationships (friends and business), and through which we generate income. The Company is a unique institution that binds us all together. Each of use has our own Company stories. Ill start with mine.
In my 15-year work life so far, I have worked at one Company, and started two of my own, of which one I sold. The Company I work for was simultaneously young and old. NYNEX (now Verizon) had been created out of the break-up of AT&T. The group which I worked in focused on new technologies. It was a great experience while it lasted just under two-and-a-half years. I left because of the inner desire to start my own Company be an entrepreneur back in India, just like my father had done more than 20 years ago.
The Company I started went through many ups and downs. My lack of experience and focus meant that we meandered from one seemingly interesting area to another, much like a butterfly flitting from flower to flower. The perfect idea never came. And after two-and-half-years of efforts, I had to accept that my First Company had failed. It was time to reboot it.
This time around, I kept a clear focus, made sure we grew incrementally, kept costs under control, built a bread-and-butter business even as we kept the long-term vision in mind, and had profits to report in the first year of operation. As it turned out, the Company was in the right place at the right time. Five years after I had re-started, I sold my First Company (version 2) to a Bigger Company.
Eighteen months later, I was back to creating a New Company from the core of something which I had started a few years ago. Today, this Company has its own set of challenges profits are elusive and yet the potential for what is being done is immense. There are many challenges. With a staff of 40, this is already the Biggest Company that I have managed. We need to balance the short-term need for building businesses which can generate cash and the long-term desire to transform verticals.
I have begun on the path of growth with earnestness, but the road is long and unchartered. Personally, I couldnt think of doing anything else. In my first Company, the goal was to prove that I could build and manage a successful business. In my second Company, the goal is bigger and bolder I want to build something that will last and make a difference, and to do well and do good. Perhaps, they are all the same. Only time will tell. For me, the Company is an all-consuming love affair. It is an instrument of innovation, of bringing forth new ideas and revolutions into the world.
In this Tech Talk series, we will look more closely at the idea of the Company through three books: The Company, The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses, and The Living Company. We will end with Peter Druckers thoughts on the future of this amazing all-encompassing institution.
Tomorrow: John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge