June 12th, 2020
One thing that I always think about is how most startups eventually become "classic" companies solving "classic" problems.

For example, Netflix.

Netflix is really just a premium cable channel, like HBO.

While Netflix obviously revolutionized on-demand content, nowadays most "mainstream" people consume Netflix through their smart TV - which isn't really much different than how we've been watching TV for decades.

And the value in Netflix is more and more its content, the premium shows like "Stranger Things" - which is really the same thing that HBO has been doing for years.

There are more examples too:

  • Square is really just a bank.
  • Uber is just taxis with an app
  • Twitter, FB, YouTube, TikTok are all just (far more engaging) media companies. They are like cable in the 50's and 60's.
  • Airbnb is just a booking engine, like Expedia

Often, startups will start with some "revolutionary" idea, leverage technology, and then eventually adopt a really common business model over the life of the company.

This makes me think about a couple things:

  • The best business models have been around for decades, if not centuries (food, sex, status, fitness, travel, health, etc)
  • You just need to solve "classic problems" in a new way / better way to be a startup
  • A startups value is its ability to capture and take over existing markets eventually
  • In order to get "really big", all startup companies will have to eventually adjust their business models/audience to be more traditional and mainstream