The bulk of Paul Graham’s essay Great Hackers is about dealing with and cultivating great hackers in the corporate environment. I found this very insightful as well:
I think what a lot of VCs are looking for, at least unconsciously, is the next Microsoft. And of course if Microsoft is your model, you shouldn’t be looking for companies that hope to win by writing great software. But VCs are mistaken to look for the next Microsoft, because no startup can be the next Microsoft unless some other company is prepared to bend over at just the right moment and be the next IBM.
It’s a mistake to use Microsoft as a model, because their whole culture derives from that one lucky break. Microsoft is a bad data point. If you throw them out, you find that good products do tend to win in the market. What VCs should be looking for is the next Apple, or the next Google.
I think Bill Gates knows this. What worries him about Google is not the power of their brand, but the fact that they have better hackers.
(With a wave of the flipper to Michael.)