So, as I established (to the great awe and astonishment of the technology world) that Web 2.0 is a bubble at least in part, here’s what I think I learned from Bubble 1.0:
1. Getting rich is at least %99 luck.
Don’t let what you percieve as a company’s chance of striking gold affect your choices too much. Companies that seem like a sure success often fail and vice versa (though unfortunately somewhat less often).
2. People matter most.
A company with smart people and good athmosphere can eventually fix a flawed product or business model. A company ruled by office politics will ultimately ruin a good product/business through bad support, reputation and future versions.
3. There will be some backlash, sooner or later.
Don’t obsess about it, just keep in mind there will likely be a time where you won’t be able to pick between jobs, or maybe even get a job. Prepare for that (see 8)
4. While you can’t do much about 1 or 3, you can try to make sure to get the following items from your experience:
A startup is an intensely educational experience. Learn as much about technology, business, people and life as you can. Take notes.
Work with people you respect and value. See 2.
Work on a product you like. Startups demand a lot of energy. Don’t spend it on something you don’t think is worthwhile. Remember 1.
8. Some cash.
Keep some cash aside for the slow period. It may be a good time to learn to appreciate single malts, but keep in mind this is a bubble situation – there’s no guarantee your income levels will stay the same. Remember 3. Drink responsibly.
9. Most importantly, it should be a fun experience.
If it’s not – think why. I met wonderful, intelligent people who were miserable sitting in front of a computer all day. Don’t go working in this industry for the money – finance will probably give you a much better offer for your soul, anyway. If you don’t enjoy the journey itself, reconsider your career choices.