June 2006 Archives

Small Teams, Big Impact


Earlier last month, I gave a guest  lecture in the undergraduate software engineering class at the University of Washington.  The class was comprised of a few small teams (5-7 people) working on quarter-long projects, building fairly complex software systems.  In giving this lecture, I realized that it is precisely small teams like these that are making a tremendous impact on media.  Namely, small start up Internet media companies are transforming multi-billion dollar media industries.  And, it is a small team of "kids" like these students that are leading the charge.

  • Napster and Kazaa transformed the music industry.

MerchantCircle is going shake up the Yellow Pages industry.  All done with a small team of people.  How is this possible?  First, while a small team can be disruptive; it takes a large team to be sustaining.  Second, small teams can be more efficient.  And third, as Auren Hoffman points out, success means you must pay a big tax that a start up may have the luxury of ignoring.

Makes me think of the first video on MTV.  Radio wasn't killed but it was certainly changed.