29 February 2008

On Being Open

Interesting thoughts from Cory Ondrejka on the virtues of telling people what you're doing when you start a new company, rather than trying to keep everything secret:

It may seem slightly counterintuitive, but once you noodle on it a bit, being open is a tremendously positive and competitive move. It forces your ideas to survive far broader scrutiny, makes it easier to hire, and lets your early employees do what they want to be doing anyway: brag about their cool, new company.

He also makes another crucial point:

It’s similar to considering how to talk about competitors. Sure, having enemies can be motivational and useful when you are getting started, but you and your competitors are collaboratively shaping the landscape for your new companies. Spending time publicly bashing them makes you look like an ass and hurts your ability to work together down the road. It is rare for any sector to be winner-take-all – even eBay has competitors – and multiple, high-quality products in a space can help ensure the overall business grows far quicker than any one company could on its own.

Such "bashing" is much rarer in the open source world, since everyone is effectively working together - the code is open, after all. Your competitor is also your collaborator, since ideas - and even code - can generally flow freely between you.

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