Experience and Job Relevance

Dr. E Ou and friends, MD
Dr. E Ou and friends, MD

If you needed treatment for brain cancer, would you rather have a doctor who just got out of residency, or would you choose the doctor who had been practicing for three decades?

If you needed an app developer, would you hire Donald Knuth, or Donald Knuth’s undergraduate student?


In a static domain, choose the person with the most experience. In a dynamic domain, choose the person with the most recent experience.

Now say you’re a VC leading a $10M series A round for a swanky new startup that’s making Snapchat for Bitcoin transactions, or something equally brilliant. Who would you rather have as the CEO? The twenty-something cofounder, or Ron Johnson?

According to Ben Horowitz, conventional wisdom says a startup CEO should make way for a professional CEO once the company has achieved product-market fit. But in the recent decade, companies have been keeping their founding CEOs.

Companies need to be run by great innovators, not just great leaders. Who would be a better innovator than the founder of a billion-dollar company?

It’s possible to learn to be a great leader. It’s very difficult to learn to be a great innovator.


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