This is the first update in two weeks, as I’ve been on holiday in Athens for the past week. Exploring Athens and being surrounded by history, seeing many of the ancient buildings that I’d learned about at school in person was great. It’s made me think more about the value of learning from the past, and about different cultures, past and present; it feels like we’re at an important time in history in many ways, making it even more valuable to understand past civilisations - it is clear that at a certain point in time, Ancient Greece would have seemed so strong that it would last forever. I’ve been reading several books on this theme over the past week, and will write a separate post on them and what I’ve learned.
I’ve uploaded a few photos that I took while there here.
Having the time away (the first proper break from work that I’ve had for a while) has given me a lot of energy for getting back to it. Here’s a few things that I’m considering going into my first week back…
Building a personal holding company
As I’ve been growing my consulting business this year, I’ve been thinking about what my next steps will be; I’m strongly considering building a Personal Holding Company; an entity that contains multiple businesses, reinvesting cashflow. While this typically involves not taking outside capital, I am not against the idea of raising capital if it makes sense for the specific business. Michael Karnjanaprakorn wrote more about this here.
I’ve seen a number of successful personal holding companies on Twitter in recent months: Marshall Haas running Need/Want (broken down here), Nicolas Pardon building Pardon, and Michael Girdley building his own PHC.
The first company I'm building within it is Positive Sum Productions, the production company that I announced last month, which is focused on helping to support and nurture live theatre, with the first two shows in 2023 already announced.
As I begin my first week back at my desk after my holiday tomorrow, I’m going to be focused on building the first software product that I’m focused on as part of this; I wrote about it at a high-level in my last update, and will go into more detail about where I am in development and what is coming next in my next one.
Iterating as a company of one
For now, I’m working without a team. While it will be necessary to hire as I progress, I’ve found I’m able to iterate much more quickly. I’m able to gather feedback from users on a call and immediately begin implementing, and have it completed by the end of the day.
I feel that tech companies have gradually become undisciplined with their headcount over the past decade, and we’ll see more stories like WhatsApp (55 employees when they sold to Facebook) in the coming years.
This should be even more possible than it was then, with new tools and services giving rise to new opportunities to add leverage to the way a company is operating. To use Naval Ravikant’s framework of the four types of leverage (Labour, Capital, Code and Content), here are some examples of recent innovations that give founders new options and open up new opportunities:
- EmployeeOps: Products like Deel and Oyster are making it incredibly simple to employ a team globally, without worrying about legals, accounting and compliance headaches that would have historically come with this (making it only accessible to larger teams previously).
- Starlink: Services like Starlink will bring people online who have not already got access to reliable Internet, further opening up pools of talent across the globe.
- New exit pathways: platforms such as MicroAcquire have given founders access to thousands more potential acquirers, opening up new exit opportunities.
- Alternatives to raising venture capital: companies such as Uncapped and Pipe are giving revenue-generating companes alternatives to raising venture capital, meaning they can scale while retaining more equity throughout their development and growth.
- GitHub Copilot: Speaking with many engineers in recent months, the release of GitHub Copilot has significantly increased engineering productivity. I've definitely found this to be true in my own work. Ultimately this will lead to teams shipping faster, or just operating with a reduced headcount, and these tools are only going to get better. After watching this demo, I can also see a reality where you can code meaningfully from a phone while travelling, for the first time.
- YouTube & TikTok: creators such as Mr. Beast and Airrack are proving that there is still plenty of opportunity to grow on YouTube, alongside the viral growth of platforms such as TikTok.
- Creator Brands: creators are increasingly launching massive brands off the back of their following: The Rock has his tequila company Teremana, Ryan Reynolds runs Aviation Gin, Mr. Beast has recently launched Beast Burger and Feastibles, and Emma Chamberlain has launched Chamberlain Coffee.