LinkedIn’s Co-Founder On Why It Took Off – with Konstantin Guericke

You’ll hear us mention in this program a lot of social networks that flopped. So why did LinkedIn take off when others couldn’t?

It all started with a series of walks that Konstantin Guericke took with his future LinkedIn co-founder, Reid Hoffman. In those walks, they took turns suggesting and knocking down business ideas. What they finally came up with was a series of ingredients that they used to create LinkedIn. You’ll hear all about them here, including why they intentionally targeted an audience that had money so they could generate revenue. How they insisted the site be useful more than fun, so it would become a necessity. And how they planned to make it to be social so users would promote it.

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About Konstantin Guericke

Photo by Peter Schink

Konstantin Guericke is the co-founder of LinkedIn, a social network for business whose mission is “to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.” He was also the CEO of Jaxtr, which provides cheap international calling from mobile phones and a network that enables mobile-to-mobile calling and where members socialize around the question “What do you want to talk about?”

Naturally, you can read more about him, on Konstantin Guericke’s LinkedIn profile.

Raw transcript


This transcript was prepared by SpeechPad. You can read (and help edit) it on Google Docs.

Andrew: Three messages before we get started.If you’re a tech entrepreneur, don’t you have unique legal needs that the average lawyer can’t help you with? That’s why you need Scott Edward Walker of Walker Corporate Law. If you’ve read his articles on Venture Beat, you know that he can help you with issues like raising money or issuing stock options or even deciding whether to form a corporation. Scott Edward Walker is the entrepreneur’s law. See him at WalkerCorporateLaw.com.

And do you remember when I interviewed Sara Sutton Fell about how thousands of people pay for her job site? Look at the biggest point that she made. She said that she has a phone number on every page of her site because, and here’s the stat, 95% of the people who call end up buying. Most people though don’t call her, but seeing a real number increases their confidence in her and they buy. So try this: go to Grasshopper.com and get a phone number that will make your company sound professional. Add it to your site and see what happens, Grasshopper.com.

And remember Patrick Buckley who I interviewed? He came up with an idea for an iPad case. He built a store to sell it, and in a few months he generated about a million dollars in sales. Well, the platform he used is Shopify. If you have an idea to sell anything, set up your store on Shopify.com because Shopify stores are designed to increase sales. Plus Shopify makes it easy to set up a beautiful store and manage it, Shopify.com.

Here’s the program.

Hi, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart and the place where I interview successful entrepreneurs about how they did it for an audience of ambitious entrepreneurs and business people who want to learn, want to build their own companies, and really who just bliss out on listening to business conversations like this.

Big question for today is how do you build a site that over 80 million business people become members of? Joining me is Konstantin Guericke, co- founder of LinkedIn, the premier social network for business relationships.

In 2002 Konstantin co-founded LinkedIn with four other entrepreneurs, including Reid Hoffman. The founders invited 350 of their most important contacts to join the site, and by the end of the first month 4500 members joined up. I invited Konstantin to tell us how his vision grew into such a big company. Welcome to Mixergy, and thanks for doing the interview.

Konstantin: Andrew, it looks like you did your research.

Andrew: I love it. You know what? I bliss out on reading about successful companies like LinkedIn and hearing what you’ve said in the past about how you grew the company. I heard you say that the idea came from another social network. Can you talk about it what was that other social network?

Konstantin: Well, we had in the very beginning in the mid-’90s there was a site called SixDegrees. So, that kind of exploded pretty fast back then. This was the really early days of the web. But then, it kind of imploded pretty quickly as well because there really was no purpose or value to it. One thing that I found is I did some consulting for a while, and I ended up getting most of my consulting clients, not through a website but really through referrals from…at the beginning from friends and contacts, people they knew and later from my past clients. So I think a lot of service providers find the same thing, but it was always a very happenstance process. I just happened to have lunch with a former client who happened to have lunch with someone else during that week. And so, they kind of made . . .

Andrew: Sorry. You were saying that it was always happenstance, and then we lost the connection.

Konstantin: Oh, this happened to be, who did my former client have lunch with the week before and mentioned it? So who I ended up getting as a client was very clear. It was always someone in my second degree or someone in my third degree. It was kind of like driving through the fog. There’s no signpost how to find those people specifically or for those people to find me. But it usually had to do with customer intermediaries.

Andrew: OK. This was the mid-’90s when you saw SixDegrees. 2003 is when LinkedIn first launched. Why not launch it earlier? What were you doing in the meantime?

Konstantin: Well, actually I did talk to Reid back then because we had met. We were both doing virtual worlds, virtual communities. Again, it was a little bit too early at the time with the whole 3D worlds and avatars and shared space. We met on a panel at the avatars conference. I grabbed the domain People Map because I was interested in giving people, professionals a home on the web because I figured it was really hard to create a web page for professionals, especially myself in marketing. I figured I couldn’t afford to do a bad job at it. So I needed something more like PowerPoint which provides the template where I just fill in the blanks. And also I kind of wanted a self-updating address book because it was a real pain to keep in touch. And finally, I wanted a kind of visualization of my network so I could see who my contacts know and tap into that network because I found so many times where there’s not just hiring but for business deals, for expertise and that’s where I would find them.

So these three things were really in People Map. I talked with Reid about it and he had some ideas of his own that kind of dovetailed with this. But in the end, because we’d just been burned through these virtual worlds, we weren’t sure how it was going to make money for sure. So we kind of postponed it for a while. Reid worked on Relationships.com which became SocialNet and then PayPal. But really when he was ready to leave PayPal, we kind of started those conversations again and the timing seemed good. We’d also seen Friendster starting to really take off on the social side. So we felt the timing was right. I think a lot of times for startup success you have to be less concerned that, ‘Oh, someone’s going to steal my idea. They’re going to do it before me.’ But really, timing is everything, and luck is a lot of it, too.

Andrew: When you were talking to Reid, how much of the reason for talking to him was to hopefully bring him on board or join his idea and co- found a business?

Konstantin: Well, it was a very organic process. It wasn’t so much me pitching him to bring him on board. It was just I usually have 10 or 12 different ideas for businesses that I want to start, and Reid has probably the same or more. And we would just meet once a week and go through one idea at a time and bounce them off of each other. It wasn’t really clear we were going to start a company for sure together Maybe he’d be an investor in one of my ideas. Maybe I would take one of his ideas and run with it. We weren’t really sure, but mostly we were interested in what does the world need and why do other sites that exist, where did they fail if they’re going after the same thing because it’s very rarely that you’re doing something completely new. Usually, there’s been a founder who’s done something similar two years before or five years before or ten years before. And so you’ve got to look at why did some of the group buy in not work then and why is Groupon working now? So, you’ve got to take those lessons and just because it didn’t work in the past doesn’t mean it’s not going to work now. But you don’t want to repeat the same mistakes.

Andrew: So, you guys would get together one-on-one on a regular basis, you and Reid Hoffman, and just talk about different business ideas that you had?

Konstantin: Yeah, we would meet. First, we met at a restaurant, and then we realized really we both need to make sure we get a little more exercise rather than filling in the calories. So we would go on weekly walks, and on each walk we would pretty much try to take one idea and the other person would try to tear it apart and see why it wouldn’t work.

Andrew: You bring up an idea, and Reid Hoffman’s job would be to tear apart an idea that you came up with?

Konstantin: Yes and vice versa. And he’d bring up ideas and I’d try to tear it apart. Basically, that’s it. We kind of started with what’s now called LinkedIn idea, and we went through lots of different ones, but it was sort of the one I think we both felt passionate about that had some real utility for the two of us. So I think that’s why we ended up coming back to it because actually one thing that I remember Reid said is that like, “You and I know this would be useful for us to be able to tap into our second degree.” So even if this venture doesn’t really succeed, because he had been at PayPal so he’d been quite successful there, he said, “I’ll pay to keep the service running and this may be just something we can use for our career independent of whether it’s a commercial success or not.” And so it felt like at the minimum that would come out of it.

Andrew: I want to move on to LinkedIn, but I’ve got to ask a question about how you guys would think through different business ideas. Can you give me an example of a business idea that seemed right to one of you and explain to me how you picked it apart and realized it’s not the right business idea to pursue?

Konstantin: Well, I remember we looked at doing something around time capsules so people can pass something on like a digital time capsule to their friends and things like that. So we always look at two things. The first thing is really how do you get distribution for this because that’s where most Internet businesses fail. It’s not that there aren’t useful websites out there. In fact, once people find them, often they do find them useful. But the thing is there are millions of them and most people go on a typical day just to seven websites. So how do you become one of those seven? And how do even people find out that you exist? And so that’s really where I think most ideas fall apart which is a real shame because there are so many great websites out there that actually would help people but people don’t know that they even exist. So that’s always a problem I’m actually trying to help one day to solve. It’s not something I’m currently working on but I am thinking about this problem. Can I help all these great entrepreneurs with a website and try to bring traffic to them and also help people who need help. Especially, I tend to like things that relate to utility where something helps people opposed to fun and entertainment.

Andrew: I’ve got a good sense of what you were looking for. I’d like also to understand the landscape at the time, in fact, the history that you were looking at. You said, and I wrote this down, that there were many other companies that failed. Why did you, when you were looking at starting out, think that all those other businesses failed? What did you learn from them?

Konstantin: Well, we knew it would be just a fun experiment for seeing who’s within six degrees of you has become a novelty factor but it’s not really something that’s going to keep people’s attention. Friendster had already done a good job. I think initially there was a kind of strong dating focus. A lot of people now dismiss Friendster, but they don’t remember how big it really was at the time. It was a phenomenal site that really hit the sweet spot and got crazy adoption. Part of it was driven by pictures that now people have because when SixDegrees existed there weren’t really digital cameras around very much. And so now it’s much more interesting to look at a profile with a picture. Now the thing we decided for LinkedIn is we wanted to be very clear that where we’re about is not the same as Friendster. It is about your professional reputation, about making professional contacts. So we, on purpose, launched without pictures. And people thought because there were a lot of other social networks being launched after Friendster came up, TryIt.net and Orchid and Yahoo360. But we very purposely decided not to do pictures because there was one very visible way for people to understand that this is a different kind of network, that business networking is a separate thing from social networking.

Andrew: OK. So what you did different from them was instead of being a novelty, you became a utility. Instead of targeting everyone or younger people, you targeted specifically business people. But what I’m finding though or what I’m thinking when I hear that criteria is Plaxo. They were around at the time. They were big. They had a viral marketing engine attached to them. They had the reputation at that point. Why do you think they didn’t make it in the field that you were jumping into?

Konstantin: Yes, you’re correct. Actually Plaxo was very big at the time already. So some people asked us, what did you do right? And I’m not sure exactly what we did right except we had a very clear focus and we would get lots of customer feedback. Of course, the great thing about this particular business is that Reid and would always have lunch with one of our contacts, people that we know, that’s how we network. So during lunch people would naturally give us feedback. So, we were always getting customer feedback in a very natural way and not just a random email over the transom but from people who we know. We could ask follow-up questions, so that was very helpful.

But in terms of Plaxo, I think the issue was that they tried too hard to be viral and they ended up really turning some people off. I think the brand got somewhat tarnished when people got too many emails. And so when you work on your viral distribution, you’ve got to be aggressive to get the word out there, but you can’t step over a certain line. There’s another company that had the same issue called ZeroDegrees. A lot of people probably don’t remember them. They actually had really good functionality. They kind of started in LA where they were starting to make inroads into entertainment where degrees of connection and referrals and so forth are very big in Hollywood as well. But again, they sort of tricked people into inviting their friends and especially in the professional crowd that does not go over very well. You’ve got to steer clear of issues of spam, being flooded with too many messages. And so, the other important thing that we focused on is this introduction system, that not everybody on the site can just contact everybody else. We called it always the fishbowl networking, but that like in the real world you’d be introduced by somebody. So, that adds…and I don’t want to make an introduction for someone else because it’s going to reflect on [INAUDIBLE]. I only make introductions where I feel it’s a win-win. So people become a very effective spam filter so that the good proposals come through and the other ones don’t pass through.

Andrew: OK. Reid Hoffman is very big on saying… I think it’s something like, “Unless you’re a little embarrassed by what you’ve launched you’ve built too much.” So, what was your first version like? What was in that first version?

Konstantin: Not very much. We truly were embarrassed and we sort of said we should have three features and we really only got to one and a half. One other half we built later, but the third feature we still haven’t built it seven and a half or eight years later.

Andrew: You had an idea that you had three features that you were going to launch with and one you still haven’t even launched. What were those three features that you had in mind?

Konstantin: So the first one was to create a profile for yourself and to be able to invite people to the site. It was the basis and the kind of core of what we did. The second was really around questions and answers and the third was something called ‘contact finder’ where you’d have a request and people would send it to people who are not in the network. And so bringing them into the network was through an invitation to connect, but by letting them know about a certain need they’ve joined the network and joined much more naturally.

Andrew: So the idea is if I need a PHP program I should just be able to say, “Who’s got a PHP programmer” and someone out there is going to refer the right person to me?

Konstantin: That’s the idea with the contact finder because people would be looking for a PHP programmer. And so, people would find out about LinkedIn because they’re engaging a programmer, here’s an opportunity for you. And so, maybe, I can find more. But we never implemented that.

* ** ** ** * * * * *

Andrew: OK. So, what you did come out with was just profiles, but that profile leg of the stool, one of the three things that you were going to do, still had more than just a profile, right? Didn’t you allow linking from person to person?

Konstantin: Yeah, sure. Of course, it was an invitation system so you could invite other people but because sometimes when you start some people are really interested in using it for the business value because often we would need to connect the person that understood the company, a certain company, recruit somebody to the team. We would look for that kind of person, and we did have a little search but we would basically look up the job by title, industry or position. We didn’t put in the name field where you type in the name of a person because we felt like if you know people already you can just email them. Why look for them on a network? But it turns out lots of people wanted to look for that existing friend. And so, one of the first things we had to add to the search box, we had to add the name field so people could search for the people they know.

Andrew: Didn’t other social networks already do that when you launched?

Konstantin: I’m not sure. [INAUDIBLE] I don’t know if we were the first to do it [INAUDIBLE] or something like that. Typically…I’m not 100% sure. [INAUDIBLE] I don’t think they did [INAUDIBLE].

Andrew: I see. So what they did was other sites allowed you to suck into your contacts and maybe invite them. What you did was suck in the contacts from AOL or whatever, email, Outlook but you also said, ‘These are the guys who are on LinkedIn. Do you want to tie into them?’ And then, ‘These are the people who are not on LinkedIn. Do you want to invite them?’

Konstantin: [INAUDIBLE] to some extent [INAUDIBLE]. And so then [INAUDIBLE] perhaps because [INAUDIBLE]. But we found if we . . .

Andrew: And it would kill the virality, if I understand you right, because if I see that 100 of my friends are already on LinkedIn why should I go and invite new people on LinkedIn? Why don’t I just connect with these 100 people and if I like it on then later maybe invite people? Why did you guys not accept that as a reason to not do what you did? To not show the friends that were already LinkedIn?

Konstantin: [INAUDIBLE]

Andrew: I see. Okay. All right. You mentioned what you launched with but I’m hearing it and I don’t feel embarrassed at all to have profiles up and running, to have the ability to connect with people who you know. That’s not bad. Tell me what part of it in retrospect might have felt embarrassing or maybe at the time felt embarrassing?

Konstantin: First of all it wasn’t useful.

Andrew: Why wasn’t it useful? What part was not useful?

Konstantin: [INAUDIBLE]

Andrew: Can you please move your camera down a little bit? I want to make sure your whole head’s in the video. And now we cut off the top of your head. Maybe a little up. I hate to even talk about this. Who cares whether the head’s fully in the video but it’s a little disturbing when it’s not. Plus when I have a celebrity like you on I want to make sure to have the full face on so people know I’m really talking to the real guy. Okay. So I see that as a big obstacle here. First thing you’re asking people to do is come one and write their resumes. Who wants to write a resume for fun? How do you overcome that when you notice that’s one of the big issues in your site?

Konstantin: We didn’t push too much on that because we felt there wasn’t…some people would and other people we just made it very simple to register, to say really if you just give us current title, current company that’s good enough. If you want to do more there’s more you can do. We didn’t have recommendations at the beginning but we kind of launched that to make people see it’s something different than a resume. But what we really focused on was where people got an invitation that they would accept. So for example, like you mentioned we invited our friends which was about 350 to begin with and so if they didn’t accept our invitation we would follow up with them, give them a phone call and say, ‘Hey, did you get my invitation?’ And we’d get some useful feedback. Either they would say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry. I forgot. I was planning to accept it but I’ll do it now.’ Which is exactly how the idea of the reminder was born, that we send out a reminder a couple weeks after the invitation because a lot of people did want to accept it just wasn’t a high priority right then. But other people would say, ‘I tried Plaxo and I didn’t like it.’ And so we basically then learned, ‘Okay, this seems too much like Plaxo. We need to make sure it’s clearer that this is not about just about keeping your address book up- to-date, that there is something more valuable, it’s more of a win-win.’ Because the address book up-to-date helped the people using Plaxo but other people didn’t feel like, ‘Why should I keep your address book up to date? There’s nothing really in it for me.’ So we had to draw those distinctions. So that’s really what we spent most of the time talking to those people rather than encourage them to fill out their full profile is share it with their friends. And then over time when there were enough people on the site, when recruiters were on the site then I think people starting realizing, ‘You know what? To be found I really should put more information in. If I’m going to use it I’m going to add more information.’

Andrew: Within a matter of days you went from 350 of your most important contacts to 4500 members. What do you think was the biggest reason for that growth in such a short period of time?

Konstantin: It was that we knew some people that were well-connected and who would basically invite people to the site because they trusted us. They felt these guys, Reid, Konstantin, Allen, Jean-Luc, Eric, they’re people in the Valley who’ve done some things, they’re trustworthy people, they kind of understood the vision to some extent but a lot of times they would just do it as a favor to us. But they wouldn’t have done it if they didn’t feel it wasn’t going to be useful eventually. So the initial burst came really from that circle. Like Reid invited his friend Joi Ito who’s very well- connected and who contacted lots of people on our behalf. So we grew very rapidly but you could see once that burst was gone the product had to work on its own because we couldn’t call up the friends our friends encouraged to invite them so the product be good enough. And we found out when people tried to do a search what were the barriers? The name search was one thing but we had really focused on privacy and making things very private but in the process we realized we made it so private that it became too much of a black box. People didn’t even understand how LinkedIn worked. For example, when we launched we didn’t show you how many degrees someone was away because we felt that was a privacy violation to show that this person’s a friend of a friend. But when we got the feedback people said, ‘Look, if I want to contact this venture capitalist I want to know does my friend actually know this person, then I’m going to do it. If my friend knows a friend who knows a friend who knows a friend who knows that VC I’m not going to send it out because it’ll be awkward traveling through three or four different people.’ When we launched we had the network logged to four degrees but over time we really learned that three degrees is what people feel most comfortable with. Even though four degrees kind of worked the perception was that fourth degree contact isn’t really any more valuable than a stranger because you have two intermediaries. People felt three degrees both people know either the sender or the receiver. There’s much more trust in three degrees.

Andrew: I’m sorry but I’ve got to dig in deeper on 350 to 4500 members. I would understand, okay. I get an email from Reid Hoffman, I get an email from Konstantin. They’re saying, ‘We’re starting this new service. Can you please try it out?’ What I would do is I would add myself to it and I would give you feedback on how easy or hard it was to add and congratulate you on launching the site and then move on. And I would do that only because you’re friends of mine, only because you specifically asked me and only because I think you’re going somewhere. And that’s a lot to ask someone to do. These people who were important contacts didn’t just stop there, which is a lot, to give you feedback and to engage with your site but they also went out and they reached out on average to over ten of their friends and said, ‘Come join this new site.’ Was it that you asked them to invite their friends and try it out? Was it that you had some viral component already baked into that first version that got the growth? Was it something else that I’m completely missing? What was it?

Konstantin: It was a combination of two things. Some of our friends would just naturally understand to really help isn’t just accepting the invitation; it is to spread it to their friends. So some just do that naturally. But others didn’t do it and it’s not because they didn’t want to they had other things to do that day. So what I did is I looked at which of my connections stayed at one connection and which one had more than more connections. And the people who just registered and had one connection I would give them a phone call and I would say, ‘You’ve accepted this but this isn’t going to be really valuable unless your contacts are on it as well. Do you understand that? Is there anything hesitating?’ And again, either they would end up doing it and we would grow or we would get some feedback whether it was some misunderstanding and so forth. The other thing to remember is when you launch often you do get a couple thousand people just from blogs and some of the media attention that comes out there. But the important thing to know is some people think, ‘We’re viral’ but you cannot count those people because that media attention is just going to be a little straw fire that keeps you going for three or four days and then is just going to die down. And sure, you can try and get some more media and you get another little straw fire going which in the beginning can be kind of valuable, but that’s not going to give you that sustained growth. So really when you track your virality you should actually subtract all those people out who came to your site where you don’t know which user brought them to the site because that’s not going to be sustainable. But the truth is virality starts very slowly because your user base is your sales force and in the beginning your user base is very small. You have a very small sales force. It’s just over time that gets more and more powerful. You have to really look at the dynamic and not so much at the absolute numbers. When you look at it we got to the 4500 number very quickly but then in absolute numbers, because it was kind of goosed up by some of the bloggers. In fact a lot of bloggers said, it doesn’t make any sense, it’s not going to work. But even some of the negative publicity people said, ‘Well, I want to check it out for myself and try it out.’

Andrew: How did you get so much press? I know it’s blogging that got people to pay attention to you at first. I think you also got some press mentions early on. Why did you get so much of it? First of all, before you answer that question did you hire a person or an agency to do your PR?

Konstantin: We actually didn’t seek a lot of press. Now one thing we did, which we’re quite proud of, is when LinkedIn launched nobody knew it was going to launch. There was no, ‘LinkedIn is working on this, Reid is working on this, Konstantin’s working on this, Alan is working on this.’ We kept it quiet. We did share the idea with a few friends but we told them not to share it and there’s no leak. Nobody spread the word. Stealth launches are hard and social network stealth launch is even harder. So we’re quite proud. There was some of that impact: wow. We’re something brand new that we haven’t seen. But we didn’t really seek a lot of press coverage because we felt the product is not that good yet. We don’t want people to do it; it’s just going to be bad. In fact, I would say most of the blogs were critical and felt that LinkedIn was half-baked and not useful and all these things. So it still helped us I think but it doesn’t make you excited as an entrepreneur to everyone reading where a lot of people say, ‘this is not very good’ because you are concerned obviously when people Google those things show up and people may just decide not to join the network. We did have Rafe Needleman did put us into Catch of the Day when he was doing the Red Herring or right after that so I remember we got a little bump from that newsletter that he sent out but he was the really the first professional journalist covering us. But we weren’t seeking out anybody. We basically waited till we had the Sequoia funding which was six months after launch. And at that point we had 40,000 users and we did hire a PR agency, but really just an individual more, and worked with her. And it did help having Sequoia backing it. That just makes you a little more interesting. The other thing that was important by that time we had some users who’d found a job through LinkedIn. So if you see the initial coverage it’s not so much, ‘Here’s LinkedIn and the vision how it’s going to make money,’ but it was more, ‘Look how this guy found this woman and it wasn’t for a date, it was for a job.’ So it became a very personal story and just LinkedIn was the way to make it happen. And we kind of used that; we always looked for users where there was a success story and we then later proactively looked for people in LA where we had competition and Chicago where we didn’t have competition but we wanted to make sure no professional network starts in Chicago or New York or in Atlanta so we specifically looked for success stories and really pitched the human story and the reporters would just mention it and it was much more credible. There was some of that utility. It was actually pretty hard to experience that utility but the people have that concrete story they’ll say, ‘I can see how this would be useful.’

Andrew: One more question on members and then I want to go onto why you charge people money. Who charges money on the internet? Everything’s supposed to be free, my friend. I’m going to ask you about that. I know that you had a consistent and steady growth at LinkedIn and you continue to. Every data that I saw in researching you on how members you have today at LinkedIn was wrong because it consistently grows and as soon as you put a number up it’s out of date. But even within that consistent growth there must be a few spikes, a few little things that you do that you slap your head afterwards and you say, ‘Why didn’t I think of that because look at how much growth it gave us and it’s so obvious.’ Can you share one or two of those little levers that increased your growth?

Konstantin: There was very few that created a measurable spike. It was a lot of little things and really our growth at LinkedIn has been very much like a machine. Always growing very steadily at a good clip, but nothing extraordinary, nothing like Friendster, nothing like MySpace, nothing like Facebook, nothing like YouTube. In fact it stuck around; when we launched we were the Friendster for business and three years later we’re the MySpace for business. Now a lot call us the Facebook for business. And now we’re just waiting in a couple years we’ll be the FourSquare of business or the Twitter of business. So it seems like LinkedIn is very steady and we don’t really have, in the business realm, much competition anymore except for in a few small regions so but we did the address book. That definitely increased the slope of things but often it was just little tweaking. I was working always on the upload text, invitation text, the little how it’s displayed. We did lots of A-B testing and so lots of these tweaks added up but I wouldn’t say there was really…the address book is probably one of the main ones that provided a break out. Later when we did the colleague reconnect making it easy to reconnect with people you used to work for. Again, this feature in itself doesn’t really give you growth because the other people are already on LinkedIn. But by bringing in more people onto the site there’s a certain percentage who will then use reconnect themselves and some people who will invite some new friends to it.

Andrew: Reconnect, if I understand it right, I think I got one of those emails because I had Dale Carnegie as one of my past jobs. And I got an email saying, ‘These are people who you might know from Dale Carnegie.’ And basically what you guys did was pull other people who wrote Dale Carnegie and you let me connect with them with the idea that after I connected with those people who worked at Dale Carnegie and I say ‘Great, LinkedIn just reintroduced me to old friends,’ I might also go out and reach out to other people at Dale Carnegie and say, ‘Hey look, we’re all over here talking. Come on join us.’ That was one of them. And constant tweaks of the text of the upload, constant tweaks of the text of the email that we got, constant tweaks of the design of them, that’s what you were doing too?

Konstantin: So often the things that you find are not intuitive because when we said, ‘Okay, business people are very concerned about uploading their address book,’ So we’re going to show them exactly why it’s private and safe and all those things. But very often, actually when we tested it…

Andrew: We found what? The audio just cut out. I can’t hear you. I’m sorry, the audio just cut out. Can you repeat what you said?

Konstantin: So when people read about all the privacy…why it’s a safe thing to do they would actually start being concerned about it. So it was better to actually not write so much about privacy, keep it really short and sweet than to explain it in great detail.

Andrew: Let’s go on now. Why did you guys decide to charge?

Konstantin: Well that was part of the initial business model. Since you did your research I think you saw from the very first press articles we talked about. We just felt that was one of the advantages of the space that we picked is that we can monetize just not through advertising because clearly we have something that appeals to people when they’re of working age, in the ages of 25 to 65. So we’re not as interesting to people that are retired. Not that interesting to college students. So we have more of a specific segment. Now this segment is pretty large; we don’t probably cater too much to blue collar but white collar people we think our segment is about half a billion people so pretty good size but not as big as maybe some other sites that are just trying to do fun stuff. Everybody likes to have fun, right? But the advantage of our audience is if it’s useful, not just fun, it’s more likely that people can pay for it so per user you can monetize much better. And we also felt if we’re providing utility one way to measure whether it’s truly useful is if we can get people to pull out their credit card. It’s the best test. You can have people write in and say how great the site is and they can have a success story but if you then ask them to pay for it and they say, ‘No,’ then you know you haven’t quite been there. We worked pretty hard trying to decide…we always knew there would be a premium level of it but which segments should we go after, what features are on the premium, those were hotly contested when we went there. In fact, the Harvard Business School has a case study just covering that very case, all the thoughts that went into that.

Andrew: I want to ask you about that but I know that before you offered subscriptions, I think I got this right, you sold job listings. True? And how did that come about?

Konstantin: Well we basically knew the job listings take a while. It’s a marketplace and people weren’t used to posting jobs on LinkedIn and people weren’t necessarily looking for jobs on LinkedIn. They were looking for contacts. So we knew it would take a while for that revenue stream to be successful and we felt that…because the people who tried LinkedIn, tried the utility once we had over a million members, generally had good results. They would be successful. So we felt quite confident that the premium model was going to work and it would work more instantly. But we felt the job listing wouldn’t work instantly but we knew that Monster was doing a billion dollars in this, there was $6 billion still in the classified but we knew we wouldn’t get any instant traction with it. So we felt, let’s just start this. We’ll get some marketplace going so that we get to tap into those bigger revenue dollars down the road.

Andrew: I see. And what were the results initially from that?

Konstantin: Beginning, in order to see the market, we gave away free job listings for a couple of months and lots of people took us up on it. But the problem was nobody was applying to jobs because people didn’t know it existed, that was not their behavior. And so a lot of people were very disappointed. They’d post a job that didn’t get any applicants. So then we started with $49 and we really tried to promote and LinkedIn became better known that there are job listings. So it just took a while. But basically as people got more applicants we could charge more. So we started with $49. Then we moved the price point to 99 then to 149 and to 199. And people have always been happy to pay more because they’re just looking…am I getting a number of applicants but also what’s very important is the quality applicants. Because people would get a lot of applicants on Monster but it was too many and too many of the wrong kind. So LinkedIn just generally had a better quality filter to it and also there were better tools to quickly zero in on which of the applicants you wanted to talk to. For instance, if an applicant applied who one of your employees knows or has worked with in the past obviously that applicant is much more interesting than someone else because you can’t just match on resume. A lot of it has to do with the soft factors. And if that employee says, ‘That person was a real hard worker, ethical, smart,’ if you see that on a resume saying, ‘I’m an ethical worker, hard working and smart’ it doesn’t really mean anything. But if one of your employees knows that that’s usually important.

Andrew: I see. And when you say you promoted it in order to add value to it what was the most significant promotion? The [INAUDIBLE].

Konstantin: Let’s see. What did we do? I know at that time I was doing a lot of email marketing to our existing members and that had to be done very carefully because the very first time we tried it we just sent out a newsletter to our members and people were very annoyed because our audience is very easily annoyed at extra email. As I mentioned in the Plaxo case that was one of the things they didn’t pay enough attention to I think. Once we got that feedback we’re like, okay, no. We don’t want to burn people, we don’t want to go down that path so we always look very carefully at what message, what a user actually finds useful. So we would segment our user base into fairly small segments and look at what is the type of message that may be useful. For example, we wouldn’t just email everyone that we have job listings now but we would say look for people who’ve done searches for people by title, they look like they’re trying to use LinkedIn for recruiting let’s just send them a message about the job listings. And we can get click through rates around 20% often. Not from all segments but often that was not unusual to get 20% click through rates because we target them so carefully. It wasn’t a long newsletter. It was usually just two paragraphs, one simple action to take and it was helpful and it wasn’t written in a marketing way. It was more like what I would tell my friends in email. And actually that’s where a lot of ideas came from because my friends would give me feedback and I’d ask them, ‘Why haven’t you tried that?’ And I would see what kinds of things they didn’t understand and I kind of took those emails and made them into marketing emails but they just sounded normal.

Andrew: One of the things that I always liked about your emails, going back to the early days, was just like you said, it feels conversational right down to I think you had a one sentence, text based email. When I was inviting my friends it would go out with text and a link. Not a big, colorful, newslettery-looking thing that would turn people off but something that looked like it came from me. I appreciated it as someone who’s inviting my friends to join LinkedIn because it would grow my LinkedIn connections and increase that number up and up until I got to over 500. That’s the big magic number because you don’t want more than that. Let’s talk about the subscriptions. Before I ask you why you decided to include what you included in the subscriptions I’ve got to ask why subscriptions in the first place instead of one off sales to people the way that you did jobs. Why subscriptions?

Konstantin: We launched with both. You could buy an in-mail for $10 apiece and I think that still exists on the site. But as a business if you can get a recurring revenue stream it’s much easier to plan for your business. There’s seasonality in it and so forth. Now it’s obviously a little harder to get someone to subscribe but we offered both. We had the debate, we said, ‘Let’s try both,’ and at various points we just did A-B test and saying, ‘In this situation offer them a la carte transaction, offer them a subscription.’ Usually more people would do the a la carte transaction but when you look at what’s the lifetime value or the annual revenue we get from that user even though a smaller percentage went for a subscription it was higher revenue for us. And we knew there was a lot of goodwill in the LinkedIn community where some just felt, ‘I’m getting so much value for the free version. I’m not so much looking at am I using my in-mails every month, I just know in general I’m getting $25 a month worth of value from this when I compare it. What else would I spend $25 on for a networking event or something like that? Or for a conference [INAUDIBLE] LinkedIn is a good value.’ So for a lot of users, it was actually interesting, it was almost like a donation where they felt they owed LinkedIn something because they’d been using it for free for so long. And the other beneficial thing was that often they were able to get the company to reimburse it because they were using it for company purposes, for business development, for recruiting and then they would simply make the decision and the company would pay for it so it was an easy decision for innovators to make because ultimately the employer pays for it.

Andrew: You also put a little note, or a little icon, next to every paid member, right? To show off this guy is a pro-member and a paid member. How effective was that? Can you talk a little bit about that?

Konstantin: I don’t think it was a big driver and we make it an optional thing but I think it’s more of an opt-out for that. But people often when they pay it is something that highlights them in the search results so people feel good about it if they like the LinkedIn brand and if they pay for it it just gives you a little extra notation. I don’t think it was a huge thing for encouraging other people to pay. I think what encouraged most people to pay is just hearing someone using LinkedIn because there are a lot of people who just reconnect with their friends, put up their resume but sometimes when they actually do a search…I think most of the value of LinkedIn stars searching. And not searching for someone you know but searching for a kind of person who has the information or the kind of person that you need in your business that’s going to help you solve a business problem. Or something like the LinkedIn answer section. I find it one of the most under-utilized sections of LinkedIn but it works really beautifully. I use it quite regularly and the results are very good. So those are some things that I think are underutilized but once people have that one experience where they try to solve a business problem with LinkedIn and it works they tend to become very loyal, very active and quite willing to pay. Our challenge is mostly to move people from that first stage where they’re just reconnecting with friends and enjoying that process, they’re not willing to pay for that. But if it helps them in their business or their career they’re quite happy to pay.

Andrew: What’s a key way to do that? How do you make sure you give that to your users quickly so that you can ensure that they’re happy and delighted with what you created?

Konstantin: The happy, the delightful thing, many people just delight in this reconnecting; especially people who have 10, 20 years of work experience have often lost touch with people but they do know how valuable it is. There’s often an emotional connection, if you get a recommendation it’s quite enjoyable to get that. So people feel quite good about it. But what only some percentage does is take the next step and solve an actual business problem and that’s been a hard one for us to work on and the emails were one way we did that and that worked to some extent. Sometimes it works through just pure word of mouth where people just hear. ‘How come I recruited this person through LinkedIn.’ And another person says, ‘Oh, I didn’t even think about that. I could do that. Let me try it.’ But the great thing is it almost always works really well. And that’s why I’m very bullish on the company is because when people really try to use it for a business purpose it almost always works great. Now when people try to use it for social purposes, often it doesn’t. That’s not what it’s designed for.

Andrew: One more question then I’ve got to ask you about a big mistake, a potential big mistake, that I have here in my notes to come back to you on. How did you decide what to include in the subscriptions? Can you give us the short version of what’s in that Harvard case study?

Konstantin: We had basically two very active user segments. One we call the searchers and one we call the networkers. And the searchers would often look like…use it as a search engine, look for a kind of person often for recruitment but also in the investment area. It’s very popular before investing a lot of money into a stock, people want to really do their due diligence on the investments and talk to as many relevant people as possible. So they were one. And the networkers were also very active but they would just want to and enlarge their network. They want to meet more people. And they think of each new contact as potential revenue but they don’t have an immediate transaction in mind. They’re more communication oriented. And so we looked at these segments and we basically went with the searchers because they fit better together with the rest of the site which are these relationship managers, because they would just every once in a while, contact somebody. It was very clear what it was about, it was usually they’d try to do a win-win transaction and the majority of people think of LinkedIn kind of as their office. It’s a quiet, clean, well-lit place, not a lot of hassle, not a lot of fuss and it works. So they’re very happy with that. And the searchers just contact very specific people. People who network think of LinkedIn as a networking event and they often get very frustrated when they see someone interesting saying, ‘I’d like to get to know you. My name is John. What is your name?’ He says, ‘Why are you coming into my office?’ The other person says, ‘No. I’m at a networking event. Why are you even here if you’re not willing to meet new people?’ So those two segments don’t get along so well and that’s why we ended up not really focusing on that segment as well because the other two segments had a more symbiotic relationship.

Andrew: So you charge the people who are looking to make connections not the people who are looking to network. Why not charge the networkers? They weren’t adding that much to the system. They were interrupting people in that quiet office environment. Why not charge them?

Konstantin: We don’t want to violate people’s privacy in the office and we could probably have charged networkers to barge into the office but the people in the office wouldn’t have liked that. So it’s structurally impossible to charge them for what they really wanted to do. Now there’s probably other features we could charge safely but we just found that the other segment was working out really well and so we’ve kind of stayed with that. There may be plans that I don’t know of. I’m still a consultant at LinkedIn but not involved full time anymore.

Andrew: I want to be very careful with the time but I’ve got to ask you about the Digg-like yellow pages that I saw an article in Tech Crunch 2006 about. You guys had this service where people could thumbs up or thumbs down businesses. What happened to that?

Konstantin: It’s still there. It’s kind of hidden on the website. It wasn’t actually thumbs up or down it was through a recommendation. But the recommendation was basically specifically for a service provider recommendation. So the recommendation had to come from a client. So that is in the general recommendation system. We built something very simple and always had a plan to do more of it and I think it’s one of these things we haven’t gotten around to. I still think it’s a very interesting opportunity because often you do look for service providers and in fact that’s one of the ideas when I started. Service providers look for clients so I think that’s one of the many upsides that LinkedIn has. I think when you look at the effort that LinkedIn has put into company profiles I think we’re getting there slowly to that.

Andrew: Give me a big failure because right now I’ve just talked to you for about an hour and all we keep talking about is this worked out, this worked out, this worked out, this worked out. It doesn’t feel real and it feels almost feels, ‘Ah, those guys. Everything worked out for them. They are not going through…’ if I was a listener this is what I might feel, ‘…they are not going through the real business struggle that I am. I can’t really relate to them and therefore I can’t learn as much from them,’ I can imagine people thinking. So give me a setback. Show me that you guys were human.

Konstantin: There are two I think. One was we didn’t have that fast growth. It’s like one thing, you start a company and you can see Friendster just grow really quickly and see MySpace grow very quickly and Facebook grow very quickly and you’re making progress but just not at that rate. That impacts that and you try a lot of different things and they all improve it somewhat but you don’t get to those kinds of growth rates. So that was definitely something we had to adjust to but we think that was partly because of the space that we’re in. But that was definitely pretty hard to see. Just imagine you have a car, another car comes by and goes faster and the next car goes faster. So that’s definitely a struggle. And the other one is what I mentioned: we have a lot of users on the site who are just using 5% of the functions and the really valuable stuff they’re not using. And it seems crazy. Why can you not get more of these people to use this? In fact, when we launched the site we thought we’d have the opposite problem. We thought everybody would just be tapping into each other’s contacts, searching, requesting introductions, people would get really tired of making introductions for other people and people basically wouldn’t make introductions. They wouldn’t want to expose who their contacts are, they wouldn’t do that. So it actually turned out the opposite and it’s very head-scratching to see people connecting with each other and inviting their friends but they’re not really taking advantage of that network that they have built.

Andrew: Why do you think that is? I see that from the outside and I think to myself…I and many people who use LinkedIn one of the things we complain about is once you get your stuff on there there’s no reason to go back to LinkedIn except to quickly just grab your information and go. Kind of like a Google for a specific, narrow need. We wonder why aren’t there more things to do on there. But there are. Question and answer sites. You guys were pioneers in question and answer sites before [INAUDIBLE] you had quality from our networks with voting up and down and with the right answers, not like Yahoo type answers. I remember Guy Kawasaki raved about it and other people raved about it but most of us didn’t use it. Why do you think it hasn’t yet gotten into our heads that this is a place where more could be done than looking up Konstantin’s background? Or our friend’s background?

Konstantin: I think it comes down to branding often. It is very hard once you establish a brand for something specific it’s hard for people to look at it in a new way. And I think that you’ve seen that with any company that tries to rebrand. If Digg is trying to rebrand and trying to be something different it’s very hard. People just have a certain perception of what Digg is about and for LinkedIn for a lot of people it’s a place for your record, where you reconnect with colleagues and have a place to park your resume. Because people do know that most recruiters are on LinkedIn these days. So they do know this is the place where you want your profile to be found. Now I think there’s a lot more people can do there because people don’t really think about what search terms are people going to put in so that you actually show up. And what’s going to make someone, even if you show up in the search results, what’s going to make them pick you? Because now that there are 80 million people from a job seeker’s perspective it’s actually not so good because you have lots of competition. A recruiter makes a very specific search for someone with certain marketing experience or product management experience and they get 25,000 answers in the right location. So how are they going to pick you? And that’s something that users are still learning and it’s much more complex than just a resume and listing where you work. There are a lot of things that I know make a difference.

Andrew: I see. Like search engine optimization for your LinkedIn profile because this is where a hit can really matter, it can change your career, it could change your relationship. People are not doing that enough. I can see that. One more thing that you mentioned earlier. You guys were like the ‘slow car’; you used that expression earlier. I’m wondering, early days, ’03 people hate you. Today everyone acts like LinkedIn is run by geniuses and of course anything they touch is a hit. ’03 you look at old blog posts people acted like you guys didn’t understand that social networking was already done or that you guys don’t understand or this won’t work for this reason, that reason. I understand you fight back and you rebel against that. But what do you do when it’s slow growth and it’s not going monster and you see all these other sites explode. MySpace comes out of nowhere; these guys suddenly walk on water the next day. Same thing happened to Friendster and all these other networks. Twitter, even afterwards. What did you guys feel internally about that? I want to know how you dealt with that struggle because a lot of us are going to have to deal with that struggle too. How did you do it?

Konstantin: I think that’s where persistence comes in. You hold steady to your belief and what really helped me hold steady to my belief is whenever I would meet with a friend and he would say, ‘Yeah, I haven’t been on LinkedIn for a couple months.’ I would ask them, ‘So what are your top priorities this week? What are you trying to get done? What’s your biggest struggle in business?’ And he would tell me about it and I would walk with the person to my office afterwards and say, ‘Okay, let me show you how you might be able to solve that problem.’ Because almost always solving a problem involves information or people so you need to find the right person or you need information. Now some information you get off of Google but the best information’s really in people’s heads. Now one way you can make a public request for it like in LinkedIn answers or you can seek out specifically. In my example, for example, a lot of entrepreneurs say, ‘How do you find the person who started a site similar to what you’re thinking about 10 years ago burn through 20 million in venture funding?’ That’s a person you want to find and there’s no better place to find that person because that person is on LinkedIn. Almost guaranteed. And that company name is on there. Very easy to find and he’s probably happy to help you. So if you could convince that person that what failed for them then will work now and you get that person on your advisory board that will help you a great deal with fundraising because this person can say, ‘Look. I spent $20 million on this problem. It failed. I know why it failed. This guy’s got it right. You better invest in it.’

Andrew: Why did you leave? I see you were there from 2002 to 2006. Why leave in 2006?

Konstantin: I was working on the marketing piece, on the outbound piece. I’m an engineer by training. But one of our co-founders handled more the product piece which I think is the more interesting. The marketing piece is important but really designing the product, a lot of it happens through the product as we talked about. So I was starting, after three years, I talked with Reid and said, ‘I need some more brain food here.’ So I started joining advisory boards. Someone contacted me through LinkedIn and said, ‘We’re looking for an advisor.’ And I said yes and I asked Reid is it okay if I advise this company? They’re doing something interesting, bringing together mobile phones and social networks. So then a year later they’d raised some funding and they’re looking for someone to join the company and I saw a lot of potential to grow very fast. And it was just a new problem area and I guess you need to be persistent as an entrepreneur but also I love new problems, new challenges. I had not really known much about mobile and telecommunication. I had not been CEO. It was a good learning opportunity. I talked with Reid about it; we were very frank. It wasn’t like I just all of a sudden left and he said, ‘I could see how that may make sense,’ and he ended up investing in the company as well. It was a very smooth transition. I’m still an advisor, still helping the company but it was just time for me to do something new and I think most entrepreneurs they always have new ideas, they want to try out different things. And LinkedIn has been very consistent. That’s actually I think one of the things people find. The brand of LinkedIn is very strong because when you look back to those articles from 2003 and what LinkedIn stands for today it’s pretty much the same thing. That’s very rare. Groupon did something completely different before they’re Groupon. Most start ups are like that. But LinkedIn is very consistent. So that’s great for the brand but sometimes for an entrepreneur it’s fun to think about new problems and new challenges so that’s what I did.

Andrew: On a personal note finally. You’re one of the co-founders of one of the top Silicon Valley firms. A success story that most people study and many people are going to be listening to this interview over and over just to pick up on little keys to success from you. I expected this to be on your own personal estate. I thought the butler would be holding onto the webcam and another butler would be holding onto the microphone. I’m seeing you’re in an ordinary place. What’s up? You’re in a regular house.

Konstantin: If that’s important to you. I didn’t do it to earn money. Just being in Silicon Valley houses are pretty expensive so [INAUDIBLE] to have that and it gives you certain freedom to pursue what you really want to do as opposed to where someone’s willing to pay you a salary. But that to me just isn’t that interesting. What kind of car I drive or what kind of house I have.

Andrew: Then what is? At the end of all of that what is on a personal level, what is the big reward for you? On a personal level?

Konstantin: I just like that creative process of… I created my own major in college called Organization Technology Innovation. So I studied engineering but also studied organizational theory and sociology and psychology and really bringing these things together is just my passion and LinkedIn very much fits into that. Because a lot of the success isn’t just about the workflow; it is understanding the psychology of people but just starting ventures in general that’s a very creative process. So I love that creative part of it. I love the people that you work with who are also attracted to that even though, as I mentioned, those virtual worlds things that Reid and I did completely failed at, we met some great people that way. And Reid and I met each other that way. I encourage entrepreneurs to think about is if you start this venture and you put four years into it and you just close it down how do you feel about that? Now I’m sure it will be hard but if you feel like you’ve worked in an interesting space, you had fun exploring an interesting space, you got to know people who will be your contacts for life and trusted advisors and people to bounce things off or people who will pass on the invitation when you ask them to, who will give you honest feedback not just say great things then that’s really worth it. And you often have to try a couple different times and there is a good amount of luck involved and you’ve got to be realistic so don’t beat yourself up too much, go try it again. And as long as you learn the lessons there’s a good chance it’ll pay off. Will it pay off in a great monetary way? There’s probably better ways to get rich than being an entrepreneur. I would not recommend doing that. But if you focus on the more intrinsic rewards and the people that you’re going to meet then I think you’ll make a good choice.

Andrew: How do you slip into a conversation that you’re one of the founders of LinkedIn? I would struggle with a good way to come up with it. Do you say, ‘Hey my name is Konstantin. I founded LinkedIn.’ Or do you just let someone else at the table say it? Do you just sit back, hang back like you don’t care and then you wait for someone to say, ‘You don’t know he’s one of the founders of LinkedIn? You could check out LinkedIn.com and see it.’

Konstantin: Just when it comes up. I mean I’m not doing it now. If I was still there people usually ask what you do and then you can just say it: this is what I do and this is the company. But now I’m a consultant, I’m not a full time employee and my passion is more different entrepreneurial things that I’m working on. So I don’t say, ‘This is what I used to do,’ because I think what you used to do isn’t nearly as important or interesting as what you’re doing now.

Andrew: You’re a much better person than I. I would get a tee-shirt made and it would say LinkedIn with the logo and underneath say, ‘Yeah. I made that.’

Konstantin: I’m proud of it.

Andrew: Finally, what is next for you? In all seriousness what are you up to now, what are you going to be doing next?

Konstantin: I think one of the areas I’m actually looking at is the LinkedIn API. Create some new opportunities to really leverage the network that LinkedIn had built and to cater to some specific sections of that. So I’m working with some grad students at Stanford about building an add on to LinkedIn. Because LinkedIn created the API because LinkedIn knew they couldn’t cater to all segments equally well and do that. So they open it up. It’s a very easy process; people often don’t realize how easy it is. It’s kind of like Facebook Connect. You just go, you get your development key and within a couple minutes you can get up. It’s really quite well done. So those are the opportunities that I know because I know that customer segment well. But I’m also thinking about some other ideas as well. As I mentioned, this general problem of there’s so many great websites, kind of a matchmaking between people who are looking for those great websites. How can you really…that would be very satisfying. I also have kids and there’s lots of problems that you see as a parent and toys and kids. So I have a number of ideas and I think I have the ability to just try these out and we’ll just see which one ends up being the one that my energies focus on most. And partly it will be determined what the customers say. Do they really want that? Do I have the right people working on it? But I’m really enjoying my time. But I’m also enjoying some time; I think that’s also important for entrepreneurs. I think it’s a very good idea to do it when you’re young because I did it when I had my first daughter and it was a very difficult trade off because there’s always more to do.

Andrew: It takes up hours and hours to launch a company and deal with all the critics and the cynics and the supporters and the fans and the co- workers and the investors. And it takes up a lot of time to be with a child. How do you do that?

Konstantin: It’s hard. And I would be lying if there is a golden rule or a good medium. Someone is going to suffer and it usually is your family. But then after the start-up I think it’s a good time to balance it out serially. So last year we spent six months in Europe and put my girls in school over there and really spent time there. So you can find that balance but I think you might have to do it in stages. Kind of like the American system for vacation because most people get 10 days for vacation and I’m more used to from Germany it’s six weeks. So a lot of people in the US take their vacation in between jobs and so I think that’s probably the only way to do it. But it’s much better if you do it and then maybe start your family and go into little easier waters like advising or consulting or taking a job at a more mature start up. That’s my advice but everyone’s different.

Andrew: I’ve been unfair with you and your time. You gave me a little bit of time and I just couldn’t say goodbye and the audience hears it. I can’t say good bye to you because I’ve been looking forward to doing this interview for so long. The interview isn’t just with an interesting person who did interesting things but you expressed those ideas well and you told those stories so well that I was just jealously hanging onto this interview as much as I could. And when I heard the phone ring somewhere around, it must have been about noon your time, I said, ‘He’s got to go. I can’t keep going.’ That was 20 minutes ago. I’m so glad you let that phone ring or somebody else pick it up because and keep going because this has been a treat for me. This is why I do these interviews to talk to people like you and to have the kind of conversation that you and I had. Thanks for doing it.

Konstantin: Thank you Andrew. You had some great questions and I hope it encourages other people around entrepreneurship because that’s what makes the world go round.

Andrew: Me too. Guys, now that the interview is over it doesn’t have to be the end of your time with Konstantin. If there’s ever an interview to rewind and re-listen to I believe it’s this one. Go back to like a minute and a half after the intro of this interview where I do the commercials, go about a minute and a half in and relisten to it and thank you for watching the first time, the second time, the third time and so on. If you want to find Konstantin you know you can find him on LinkedIn. He’s got his first name as his LinkedIn name which is really cool. Thank you all for watching. Konstantin, good to meet you.

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