In September 2013, my startup, Parse.ly, had just raised Series A capital, and had just begun growing its team rapidly, from a small group of fewer than 10 to over 40 employees now. In the past several years, I have run Parse.ly’s fully remote engineering, product & design team.
Back in 2013, we had achieved initial product/market fit, initial revenue, and had already established a kernel of a product and engineering culture. I knew the company would change, but I wasn’t sure exactly how. Meanwhile, I had just recently read “Reasons & Persons”, a book on ethics and identity by the philosopher Derek Parfit. Though his ideas focused primarily on individuals, they influenced the way I thought about my business, my team, and its evolution over time.
What follows are my speaker notes from a talk I gave to my team to discuss the issues of Ethics and Identity central to Parse.ly’s culture:
Origin of this talk
- Parse.ly turned 4 years old in May 2013
- I reflected after our Series A round
- I read a book about ethics/identity, Reasons & Persons
- Realized some interesting concepts apply to firms, too
Parse.ly, different takes
- “An analytics platform for large media companies?”
- “A startup founded originally in 2009 at Dreamit Ventures?”
- “A team of employees?”
- “A specific configuration of tech and code?”
What is Parse.ly, really?
- our history?
- our appearance to customers / press?
- our employees (or founders)?
- our technology / product?
- our shareholders? (huh?)
Ship of Theseus
What is the Ship of Theseus?
- They took away the old planks as they decayed
- … putting in new and stronger timber in their place
- One side held that the ship remained the same,
- … and the other contended that it was not the same.