Why I don’t worry about competiton

Often when talking to press or VC’s, they ask a million questions about competition – about Google, Microsoft, and other document sharing sites. I tell them, that’s not what worries me. What worries me is not being able to execute on our own plans, not delivering on the promise to our users, not figuring out what the right strategy should be, not being nimble and agile enough to change as the field evolves, or not focusing on our customers enough.

That’s what keeps me up at night.

Sridhar Vembu from Zoho has written a brilliant post: Companies don’t get killed by competition, they commit sucide about this issue – he is referring to a post about Microsoft Office 2010 which spelled out the death of Zoho.

He points out that people have been asking Zoho the survival question from the beginning. How will you survive after large company does X or Y?

We used to have the same question about Google. Before they launched Google Presently, we used to keep getting asked – what will you do when Google launches their presentation app. Well, it was great once they launched Presently. No one asks us about Presently anymore.

Now they ask about Microsoft – are you not afraid that Microsoft will launch a sharing app? Yes, they might launch a presentation sharing app. No, I am not afraid. They are about collaboration and will focus on that in their sharing site. Our natural strength is presentations as social media. And like Sridhar points out for Zoho, we are small and nimble (only 20 people). We use that to our advantage and adapt.

Often when talking to VC’s, I get the feeling they think I am too blasé about competition. Thing is, I have heard from the beginning. First they told us, a presentation sharing site traffic can never get so much traffic (this is when we only had 2 million monthly uniques). Now we have 18 million monthly uniques.

Then they told us, Google would kill us with their presentation app. They did not.

Then they told us other presentation authoring apps would kill us. They did not. We are thriving.

If you worry too much about competition, you are always playing the follower game, following in their footsteps. You stop seeing the lay of the land since you are so focused on what your competition. Instead of leading the company with your own strategy, you start driving based on someone else’s strategy which you might not understand, and which does not focus on your strengths.

Focus on what you do well, for your customers. Do that better, do it for more people. Differentiate yourself.

Competition is a good thing. It makes things better for the customers. It gives them options. Stop being afraid of it, and focusing on it at the expense of focusing on your strengths.