A few people heard me on This Week in Startups (starting at 15:45) asking Jason if we should take money from the first VC who fell into our laps, or spend time doing the Sand Hill Road rounds, meeting more VCs, and doing a road show for the other firms that might be interested in investing.
Jason (and his guest James Segil) both agree that we should take more time picking the right partner. We’re going to be in bed with these guys for years, they say, and we have to approach this like picking a spouse.
Why are we seeking venture capital for StackOverflow?
Almost ten years ago, I wrote about two kinds of companies, the Ben and Jerry’s type of company, which grows carefully and organically, and the Amazon type, which uses huge amounts of investment capital to get big quickly.
At the time, I had no doubt that I wanted Fog Creek to be a Ben and Jerry’s type of company, and that model has served us well. By staying profitable and growing carefully, we’ve managed to survive two big downturns and we’ve grown into a stable, 34-person company that’s a great place to work and is likely to remain stable, and a great place to work, for a long time.
StackOverflow, though, is a bit of a different story.
There are a few indicators for the type of company that I believe can benefit from, and should take, VC.
There are counter-indicators, of course: signs that you shouldn’t consider VC. Here are just a few off the top of my head:
When I put all these things together the conclusion is that StackOverflow is one of those rare companies for which VC can really work. Jeff and I started out with a goal for StackOverflow of changing the way programmers and system administrators get answers to their questions on the Internet, which was deeply broken. In 18 months we’ve accomplish that: we’ve got 6 million unique visitors every month. Now we’re biting off the bigger goal of changing the way everyone gets answers to their questions on the Internet, and that’s something we can’t do alone.
So, off I go, on a StackOverflow road show. I’ll be in Silicon Valley Feb 24-Mar 3; drop me a line if you want to get together.
You’re reading Joel on Software, stuffed with years and years of completely raving mad articles about software development, managing software teams, designing user interfaces, running successful software companies, and rubber duckies.
I’m Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Fog Creek Software, a New York company that proves that you can treat programmers well and still be highly profitable. Programmers get private offices, free lunch, and work 40 hours a week. Customers only pay for software if they’re delighted. We make Trello, insanely simple project management, FogBugz, an enlightened bug tracker designed to help great teams develop brilliant software, and Kiln, which simplifies source control. I’m also the co-founder and CEO of Stack Exchange. More about me.