No Sprinting Here. It’s All A Marathon.

Steve Jobs, June 1995, as played in the Fast Company article “The Lost Steve Jobs Tapes”:

Pixar has been a marathon, not a sprint. There are times when you run a marathon and wonder, why am I doing this? But you take a drink of water, and around the next bend, you get your wind back, remember the finish line, and keep going.

Fortunately my training has been in doing things that take a long time. I was at Apple ten years. I would have preferred to be there the rest of my life. So I’m a long-term kind of person. I have been trained to think in units of time that are measured in several years. With what I’ve chosen to do with my life, even a small thing takes a few years. To do anything of magnitude takes at least five years, more likely seven or eight.

I have struggled for years with institutional investment. Part of me loves investors. The experience they bring can catapult a company forward. The money they bring allows us to focus on the task at hand. On the other hand, the goal of institutional investing is to get their money back while maximizing the ratio of years and dollar return.

I am a long-term thinker and I want to have massive market impact. Sure, you say, I write a software calculator for a living. What kind of impact could that have? And I would answer huge. Have you seen what kids are using in school today? It’s a DOS computer from 1985. What bigger impact could I have then changing the future for millions of students.

But at the heart of this struggle — the struggle between return and the struggle between massive impact and long-term thinking — is where I get confused about institutional investors. I recognize the great benefits they bring but I also recognize that their goals may be very different from my own.

At some point I hope the goals align, that I can find investors that can have great business impact who also think long-term and hope I can partner with them to make something amazing.