Mandrill (our new email as a service product, for those that don't know) has had an interesting history. It started as an idea about two years ago, and its path of becoming a product is an example of a growing company trying to figure out how to start something new.
tl;dr As a company grows around a product, inertia from past success can kill short-run productivity on something new. A way to get around this is to create a whole new team isolated from the core to break the inertia and force them to bet big on the new risky product.
Why Do Startups Win?
To a naive observer, it seems insane that tiny companies bootstrapped with no money and made up of a bunch of friends from college could ever build products that rival the output of huge companies. The huge companies have easy access to large amounts of money. They have built-in pools of trained experts that they've hired over the years and can afford to pay well. They have a brand that people recognize. They have man-millenia of experience building products and systems with a proven track record of success. (they're big for a reason, right?) Tiny companies have none of these things.
So why aren't big companies exploding with innovative new products? Why do they pay huge premiums to acquire tiny startups? It can't be for the idea - everybody has ideas. It would have to be for the team or the execution of the idea. With all of these advantages, why does the big company need to pay a premium for that? Why doesn't the big company just create new products from within? read more