Rich Barton: Empower People with Information [Entire Talk] | Summary and Q&A

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October 25, 2017
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Stanford eCorner
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Rich Barton: Empower People with Information [Entire Talk]

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Summary

This video features an entrepreneur discussing his experiences with three different startups: Expedia, Zillow, and Glassdoor. He highlights the importance of giving power to the people and the role of great expectations in achieving great results. He also emphasizes the value of having a clear mission, hiring the right people, and creating a culture of innovation, trust, and respect.

Questions & Answers

Q: What was the first startup the speaker discussed?

The speaker discussed Expedia, which was born out of his frustration with corporate travel agencies while he was a product manager at Microsoft. He recognized the opportunity to give power to the people and provide them with access to information about travel options.

Q: How did the speaker pitch the idea of Expedia to Bill Gates?

The speaker pitched the idea of building an electronic travel agent to Bill Gates during a meeting. He initially thought Microsoft wouldn't be interested in it and suggested funding the startup externally. However, Bill Gates laughed and encouraged him to start it inside Microsoft, with the possibility of spinning it off if it proved successful.

Q: What was the big idea and goal of Expedia?

The big idea and goal of Expedia was to become the largest seller of travel in the world. The speaker recognized the opportunity to use technology to connect consumers with information and suppliers in the travel industry, bypassing traditional intermediaries.

Q: How did the speaker describe the Pygmalion effect in relation to his first startup?

The speaker described the Pygmalion effect as the idea that great expectations lead to great results. He used this concept to emphasize the importance of setting big goals and having ambitious dreams. By aiming high, you attract like-minded individuals and use human ingenuity to achieve your goals.

Q: What was the second startup the speaker discussed?

The speaker discussed Zillow, which was born out of his frustration with the lack of access to information about homes for sale. He saw an opportunity to tear down the barriers in the real estate industry and provide consumers with information to make better decisions.

Q: How did the speaker describe the incentive structures in public companies?

The speaker doesn't believe that private and public companies behave differently, as long as the public company is founder-led. He emphasized that having a public company provides strategic flexibility and optionality, allowing the company to make long-term decisions and raise capital for growth.

Q: How did the speaker describe the importance of culture in a company?

The speaker emphasized the importance of culture in a company and described it as a lever for building a successful and innovative organization. He discussed the value of hiring the right people, having a well-defined mission, and creating an environment of trust, respect, and excellence.

Q: How did the speaker inspire his teams to be excellent to each other?

The speaker encouraged a culture of excellence by emphasizing the importance of valuing and respecting all functions within the company, not just engineering. He described how all functions, like sales, marketing, and HR, are essential spokes in the wheel of a successful organization, and that mutual respect and collaboration are key.

Q: What was the third startup the speaker discussed?

The speaker discussed Glassdoor, a job search site that provides information on salaries, company culture, and employee reviews. It was born out of the desire to empower individuals in making informed decisions about their careers and workplaces.

Q: How did the speaker encourage people to be excellent to each other?

The speaker used the movie "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" to highlight the importance of being excellent to each other. He emphasized the value of respect, compassion, and kindness within a company, and how treating others well can lead to long-term success and positive relationships.

Takeaways

The speaker's main takeaways from his experiences with startups are the importance of giving power to the people, setting big goals and expectations, hiring the right people, and creating a culture of innovation, trust, and excellence. He also highlights the role of technology in providing access to information and transforming industries, as well as the value of strategic flexibility and optionality through public companies. Finally, he emphasizes the significance of treating others with respect and kindness to build successful and fulfilling organizations.

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