Scaling a startup session @ SxSW with Werner Vogels

Werner Vogels, the amazon CTO, in a very informal way talked with Conten.ly, Distill Networks, and some other CEO/CFO/CCO’s on how the start-ups were scaling.

Werner still claims that Amazon is a startup. Yeah, just with billion valuation and an IPO. How cute, noted Shane of Contently. (UPD: this was shared lightning fast all over the media, see the full transcript)

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“How much time do you spent time on hiring?” Vogels asked. “At Amazon, of course, we’re a 20 year-old startup by now —”

“Uh… startup?” Kretchmer interrupted.

The crowd burst into laughter. Vogels stuck with his description:

“Ehh, startup,” he said over the crowd, “We’re still a startup!

“Awww, that’s really cute,” Kretchmer fired back in a faux-sweet voice.

Vogels paused as the crowd and the panel participants continued to giggle.

“Mmmhh, that threw me off guard a bit,” he said finally, shaking his head.

Kretchmer wasn’t done:

“Yeah,” he said with a laugh, “There’s a new class of startup called ‘IPO’d and Worth Billions.’”

“It’s not just about the size!” Vogel’s protested. “It’s.. whatever. Moving on.”

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Scaling a startup session

So, basic idea was that when there are 15-20 people, a general manager / product / ceo / founder can handle all of the connections, but the more people are scaled up, the harder it gets. So the discussion was on the sizes and scaling the management team for that, and how often should it report the feedback. ‘The one funny thing about the managers is that they are vital’ – says Werner. ‘You think that he does nothing except managing the people, but he accumulates the feedback and knows what’s happening around’. 

The guys also talked about money, and how inefficiently they were spending them when they were founded and needed to fastly scale up the team. The funny thing was that their main investor and sponsor was there =) So they laughed all together.

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