Stay lean as you climb to the top

This article was first published on April 11, 2012.

 

One of the things that struck me about Facebook’s $US1 billion takeover of photo app maker Instagram was just how few people the company had – just 13 full time employees, who will share in a bonus pool of $US 100 million as a result of the deal.

 

Now, Instagram is just two years old, so the fact it has just 13 employees isn’t remarkable. But when a business is worth $US 1 billion, it will generally have many times this number of employees. You could host the Instagram Christmas party in a phone box!

 

Instagram has stayed lean by focusing very tightly on its core function – creating a great app. Most of its staff are engineers and the business development side of the company was slower to start. This is underlined by the fact it is still not profitable.

 

The company’s founders say they have not been “lean” for the sake of it. Instead, they have focused on being nimble – that is, keeping up with technological changes and growth. And they’ve hired according to this mission.

 

Tech start-ups are different of course – many of you would need to hire business development or sales people much earlier than Instagram has needed to, just to keep the doors open.

 

But the way the Instagram has focused very tightly on the its core mission – and built its team around this – is impressive.

 

Get it done – today!

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