New Startup Model – Young Grasshoppers Out There Watch How Andy Bechtolsheim Does It

UPDATE FROM SUN:  see comments below; Sun PR is saying that Andy will remain at SUN as an employee part-time.  The question is can Andy serve both masters?  Is Andy even needed there or is he a figurehead.  I see know problem with him being two places but the reality is he has to focus on one.  There might be more to this story.  I will talk to SUN and find out the story.

The NY Times is reporting that SUN Cofounder Andy Bechtolsheim is leaving SUN to go to his new startup Arista Networks (which has been building a product for 4 years). Who said this is a bad time to do a startup.  While the web 2.0 flops are bunkering down for the winter and trying to figure out what to do, Andy is developing a real business going after a real market.

I have my take on why Arista will be successful on my Broadband Developments blog – which covers this vertical.

This post is about how to do a startup.  Here I want to highlight a tidbit from the NYTimes story where Andy Bechtolsheim says…”

Lean staffing also helps Arista keep its costs down. The Menlo Park, Calif., company has fewer than 50 employees and started shipping systems a few months ago even though it had no formal chief executive.

“One mistake a lot of start-ups make with the encouragement of venture capitalists is to hire the whole management team upfront,” said Mr. Bechtolsheim. “You have a lot of people twiddling their thumbs and spending money.”

He is right on the money.  Ramping up the management team to early can be dangerous.  Founding CEO of a early or zero stage startup doesn’t have to be “Mr Big” with pedigree.  It has to be “Mr Entrepreneur” who can assemble the right ingredients for the startup – core team, product and product roadmap, key customer activity or early market development, and entry to that market.  Note;  Even tech titans moonlight on their day job before quitting.

To all the young startup “Grasshoopers” out there learn from Andy and his approach.  Build a product for a real market that will pay you money for that value – Now that’s a business model worth investing.


Author: John

Entrepreneur living in Palo Alto California and the Founder of SiliconANGLE Media

3 thoughts on “New Startup Model – Young Grasshoppers Out There Watch How Andy Bechtolsheim Does It”

  1. Correction on behalf of Sun – There have been many inaccurate articles published regarding the status of Sun co-founder, Andy Bechtolsheim. Sun can confirm that Andy will remain with the Company as an essential product architect as part of the Sun Systems group; however he will be working with Sun in a reduced capacity as a result of his being named Chief Development Officer of Arista Networks, a start-up company he founded.

    Andy will focus his time with Sun on technology development and ongoing systems projects to help drive new product architectures, including X64 servers and storage servers, and will continue to work on key strategic initiatives such as HPC.

  2. I worked as an integration analyst for 90’s era EDMS company that was venture funded. They had a lot of people in suits who did little, and only a few that actually touched the document management systems and the hardware (me and maybe 20 real engineers).

    I though they were burning a lot of resources and I told the founders that we could do the same exact workload with my tech team and just the founders and a outsourced CPA – but nooooo.

    We had a VP Finance, a CFO, a comptroller, a Director of accounting.

    I once said to the more technical of the founders, “what’s the diff between a CFO and a VP fin? Ain’t it all money, sheeeeiit, we only gross like 23M a year!”

    He gave me a long speech about strategic roles….long and short, they are gone.

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