Frank Slootman has been the CEO of three companies: Data Domain, acquired for $2.4 billion, ServiceNow, market cap $94 billion, and now Snowflake, market cap $52 billion. His track record has few parallels.
But Slootman wasn’t always a big success. As a teenager in the Netherlands, he cleaned toilets for a living. When he moved to the United States, he had his heart set on joining IBM.
They rejected him. 12 times.
So how did Slootman go from obscure Dutchman to one of the biggest names in tech? By bringing a warrior’s mentality to business.
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Slootman focuses like a laser on destroying the competition, on breaking their will to fight. And the most powerful weapon in his arsenal is growth.
When you grow much faster than your competitors, it demoralizes them. And as you become the winner, you can begin poaching their best people, causing the rest to lose all confidence.
The importance of growth to Slootman’s approach is impossible to overstate. It’s also born out by data:
“‘Grow Fast or Die Slow’ is the title of a 2014 McKinsey & Co study that examined thousands of software and services companies between 1980 and 2012. It concluded that growth trumps everything else as a driver and predictor of long-term success. ‘Super grower’ companies, which McKinsey defined as 60% or more annual growth, had five times higher returns than medium growth companies (which had less than 20% annual growth). Super growers also had an eight times greater likelihood of reaching $1 billion in annual revenue. “
So how do you grow fast? Slootman recommends focusing on one key thing.
Many priorities means no priority.
You should also push everyone to move faster at all times:
But not just any team can achieve this. Finding the very best talent will make or break your business:
This talented group of people also must be motivated by an important mission. Snowflake is making data queries 10-100x faster, leading to a total revolution in how humans use data to make decisions.
That’s the kind of mission that will put pep in your step!
Slootman also has some interesting info for investors in startups, such as myself. The way he spotted “super grower” companies to take the helm of was by looking for a fast growth track record, a huge market, and extremely happy early customers.
We can use the same criteria to find great investments.
Slootman’s book is energizing, exciting, and a true page turner. That’s rare in the world of business books.
I strongly recommend getting this slim volume for yourself! After reading Slootman’s words, I felt ready to run through a wall.
You will too!
Let’s close with a great quote from Frank:
What do you think Slootman got right, and did he leave out?
Leave a comment at the bottom and let me know what you think.
Have a great day everyone!
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