Fighting above your weight class

What a great metaphor. 

I’ve been recently inspired by a couple of articles on similar subjects.  The first is the ever-entertaining Ben Horowitz in a recent column he wrote for Fortune.  The second a syndicated article in Techcrunch by Mark Suster.


They got me to thinking about what it means to fight above your weight class.  I thought of a few examples of people, companies, and technology that have done this successfully.  It seems to me that if you want to succeed in building a new, innovative, and disruptive company you absolutely have to think, act and hire above your weight class.

1. Flipboard.

Start a new magazine.  Make it personalized.  Take complete advantage of the tablet interface.  Embrace curation like nobody’s business.  Leverage social sharing behavior.  Come out of nowhere and throw a freekin’ hay-maker.  Those guys shook up the world.

Ok maybe that’s a little over the top.. but the fact remains that from where I sit the folks at Flipboard took on the traditional publishing guys and won round 1 hands down.  Even the “fast” followers like The Daily s-u-c-k in comparison.  Great example of coming out and fighting above your weight class.

2. Linux.

Big iron, data-centers, enterprise systems all got kicked in the teeth by open source software.  A virtual army of developers in their basements, home offices, and on their lunch breaks built and the foundation stitched together a series of never-ending improvements to make computing faster, cheaper, and better.  From mainframes to departmental systems there is nowhere to hide if you’re AIX, HPUX, Solaris, Z-OS, or even Windows. 

Caveat: I’m not going there for typical desktop computing ‘cause I think that is still all about the UI and engineers are notoriously bad at the presentation layer.  That’s why we love Steve Jobs and the magic he develops.

3. Travis the Intern.

He’s a guy that is unencumbered by preconceived notions about how things work, and instead thinks about how things should work.  An undergrad with no prior experience in ad-tech, online publishing, or really anything we do here at Lijit.  Travis came to us from CU and immediately made an obvious and measurable impact mostly by not overthinking things and being smart about doing things.  I have mixed emotions because Travis was recently recruited away from Lijit to work in Zuckerland.  I’m sure he’ll kickass at Facebook just as he’s done by fighting above his weight class at Lijit.