Brian Armstrong

Quote: Joel Spolsky on Taking Outside Investment

This is from the excellent book, Founders At Work, that I’m reading right now.

I find new reasons every day why I’m thankful that we never took any kind of outside investment. Let me give you a small example… Jared had a friend that had an idea of some way that we could modify FogBugz to be really useful to the investment community as something - I don’t remember what, but something that the investment community could really use that’s 5 percent different than FogBugz. And I kept thinking, “This is a huge distraction, and there’s not a big enough market. I just want to stick to our core competency, and I’m not interested in doing software for the financial markets.” He kept saying, “No, no. You’ve got to talk to this guy. You could make a lot of money off this. It would be great.”

I kept thinking, “You know what, if it was a real board of directors and the VC’s were bringing you these great ideas, you wouldn’t really have any choice but to say yes. And you’d keep getting distracted to do their pet projects that they dreamed up in the shower one night and they think might be a good idea, and you just don’t think it’s a good idea.” You really don’t have the ability to say no when you take those outside investments. It’s hard to tell your investors, “Let me just go in my own direction.”

I can identify with this thought process. There is a big difference between thinking up a cool idea, and actually having to go implement it. But I found it interesting because he may have changed his mind (at least in part) since he wrote this a few years back.  He went on to take VC money for his new project,