I came across a press release announcing Instacart’s Series A funding round. The 2013 post noted that Paul Buchheit participated in the round and that he was the creator of Gmail. I wasn’t familiar with Buchheit and did some research. He not only created Gmail but also cofounded FriendFeed, which Facebook acquired, and is a Partner at Y Combinator. I also found a chat he gave to Y Combinator founders several years back.
Buchheit gave background info about himself and how he went from midwestern college student to Y Combinator. And he shared what he learned as one of the first twenty or so Google employees and from building a social start-up that competed with Facebook.
One of the insights he shared during his chat has stuck with me. The thing that helps companies become $100 billion giants: sitting on top of an exponential change in the world. A massive shift in society has happened or will happen. These companies recognize this and build a solution that capitalizes on the change. In this portion of his chat, Buchheit went on to give examples of companies and the exponential change they benefited from.
Buchheit’s insight is spot on. To take it a little further, the companies recognize an exponential change that will create a new market that will expand rapidly. They build a solution for this new market and ride the wave. As the market leaders and hopefully first movers, the companies get pulled along as the market grows because of this exponential change in the world.
A great insight from someone who’s been inside multiple billion-dollar companies as an early employee (Google/Alphabet) and investor/advisor (Instacart, Doordash, Coinbase) and been acquired by one (Facebook/Meta).