Stay lean; don't get ahead of yourself

Meliza Solan Surdi · February 27, 2009 · Short URL:

Diddit co-founder Paul Gauthier shares lessons about building a startup

In this segment of Lessons Learned for entrepreneurs, Bambi Francisco interviews  Paul Gauthier, co-founder of Diddit, a site for people to discover and share life experiences. Gauthier also co-founded Inktomi, a pioneering search engine that launched in '95 and went public in '98, and was acquired by Yahoo in 2002 for $235 million.

BF: Thank you for joining us for this segment. I remember covering Inktomi. It was a roller-coaster. Did it go public in 1998? I remember watching the stock go up and down. It was a real roller-coatser ride I'd say. I'm sure there are many lessons that you've learned in that period that has made you a better entrepreneur as you pursue Diddit. Can you talk about a couple of lessons you've learned while you were at Inktomi?

PG: One of the most obvious things when you're working in a startup is that people are so key. Having great people to work with and having that early team sort of sets the tone for the entire company. The folks who I started Diddit with are some of the key folks from Inktomi. These are some of the people who I have worked very hard with who started that company and made it the success that it turned out to be. So it was a pretty easy decision to get back together with that same group of people and start a new project.

BF: Well that's good. So those are the people who are able to navigate the waters and get through the bumpy seas and that's why you're bringing them back together for Diddit. So what else in terms of market timing or decisions that you've made?  Do you ever look back and wonder whether you should have made other decisions?

PG: I think there are some parallels now the way the economy is going. Things have sort of gotten bad lately and when the bubble popped that was another time like when things were bad. But I think right now we've been lucky enough to be fairly lean. We're a small company and we've got a small team. We're in a good position to sort of survive during these downturns. I think some of the companies who are in that stage that Inktomi was in - large company, public - I think it's difficult  different to manage that. So you need to watch your burn rate and not get ahead of yourself. It's really working for  us.

BF: Can you talk about anything that happened specifically at Inktomi? Many of the guests always talk about a certain incident or experience that people can visualize like any dumb moves that you probably would never do again.

PG: I didn't really have any dumb moves but I will just say don't be afraid of the intensity and the pace and the hard work. I could remember weeks at Inktomi weeks on end when all we did was work and not sleep very much. And now I've come back in 10 years, I'm just really surprised to see what the level of intensity could be. We've been getting ready to launch our site, so we're putting in a lot of effort and cranking in the hours.

BF: Is that good or bad?

PG: It's good in bursts. You certainly can't do it forever. But it's rewarding to get so much done in such a short period of time.

BF: Well we wish you the best of luck certainly this time around, Paul.

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Diddit (Ludic Labs)


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Diddit -- you are what you do -- is a site for people to discover, connect and get credit fortheir life experiences.  Diddit, aproperty of Ludic Labs, combines a comprehensive experience guide with apowerful social platform empowering people with compelling content andadvertisers with highly targeted audiences.  Headquartered in San Mateo, California,Ludic Labs was started by the founding team of search engine company Inktomiand is funded by Accel Partners (,KPG Ventures (, its founders and private individuals. For more, visit