A funny thing happened on the way to the domain server

Marketo forgot to pay their domain bill to Network Solutions. Thus their entire service went down today.

Keep in mind, this is a billion dollar company which is part of a 10+ billion dollar private equity firm. There are over 1,200 people who work there. How could this happen?

Well, the reality is that it’s quite easy. Here is the formula:

  1. Lose alot of employees including managers over a short period of time

It’s a simple formula, I know. However, this is how things go awry. When architects leave the engineering team, the architecture falls apart. When designers leave the UX team, the consistency of the app falls apart. When managers leave, institutional knowledge evaporates. This isn’t specific to Marketo. Lots of companies, big and small, have had this problem. It threatens the very existence of the company.

So why don’t companies put systems in place to avoid this? Again, the answer is simple: Because it’s hard and costs money. It’s much easier to assume things will be OK. It’s much easier to assume things will remain the same.

An object in motion tends to stay in motion and an object at rest tends to stay at rest.  In other words, a domain name that is registered tends to stay registered.

We all act surprised when shit hits the fan because we are hard wired to assume that the status quo is permanent. This is why I love startups. Before you have customers or code that can go down, you are just building something new. Before even engineering kicks in, you have just designs on a piece of paper.

Side note: Accidentally losing your domain used to be worse. Someone would swoop in and buy it. Now Network Solutions holds it for some time to let you renew. It avoids lawsuits and is a much better system.

Grinding

There are particular kinds of games where you have to spend alot of time doing simple things to get your level up. An example is killing a million squirrels in the forest so you can buy the sword to go after a dragon in a cave. This technique is called grinding.

Some games specialize in this kind of play. The psychology is pretty interesting. It clearly hits a part of my brain that is difficult to shut off. I feel like I can’t stop grinding. Madden NFL Mobile has a serious grinding mentality. I find myself needing to do it at night before I go to sleep. I know that reading a book is better for me, but I think I have some DNA that predisposes to grinding.

I think I grind in real life too. Creating Docs.marketo.com took 3 years of grinding. Designing and building a product is also a grind. You add one feature at a time to build a whole over the course of years.

Another example of this is the Primitive Technology video series. I love watching these videos. They calm the inner part of my soul. This guy is in the woods and builds things with his hands, rocks, water and trees.

To build something great you have to build a series of little things first. Being a great professional in any job means doing the same thing. It means grinding towards that future. Build up your assets one piece at a time.

When people talk about grit, I think of that as the ability to grind. I think they are two sides of the same coin.

What ruins grinding is when you perceive other people succeeding without it. Maybe they “knew the right person” or maybe they were better looking or maybe they just got lucky. I have heard plenty of stories of people making millions without contributing towards that success. One guy joined Marketo a few weeks before all the stock was fast-forwarded and vested and paid out. He made millions and quit a few weeks later. Totally lucky and unfair, but such is life.

I could dwell on this, but it would only make me unhappy. Rather, I should focus on the grind in front of me. Build something great, keep building. I don’t think of grinding as unpleasant. It actually makes me feel focused. I am moving the ball forward each day.