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Warnock's Advice to Startups

My one-time boss, the great John Warnock, was awarded a richly-deserved honor this week:

Yesterday evening Dr John Warnock, co-founder of Adobe, was awarded the British Computer Society's Ada Lovelace Medal by BCS president Professor Wendy Hall CBE.

The prize is given to individuals for making a significant contribution to the advancement, or the understanding, of Information Systems. Ada Lovelace is remembered as one of the first women to make an impact on computing. She was assistant to Charles Babbage and began corresponding with him on maths and logic when she was just seventeen.

In his acceptance speech, he had some great advice for startups:

Warnock also had some advice for software startups today: "There was no great planning in what we did, the company evolved. You have to follow the river -- it's the same now. There is no magic formula, but don't hire MBAs."
This reminded me of something John said to me when I was working for him:
You can't be in it for the money. Do what you love. The money has to be a happy accident.
I've tried to keep this advice in mind ever since. I can think of one time in particular when I didn't -- when I made a decision to take a job with dollar signs in my eyes, ignoring the fact that I had serious reservations about the person for whom I'd be working -- and it turned out a disaster. I plan on not making that mistake again.

Thanks to David Smith for the tip.


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To follow up on my own post, a quick glance at the resumes on Adobe's current executive profiles page shows that 4 of the 14 executives have MBAs. Not counting John Warnock and Chuck Geschke, that's 4 of 12, or one-third. Interesting.

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