Lesson 4: Infrastructure is cheap, so innovate on talent
Here’s a crazy tidbit about Evernote’s infrastructure costs: They’re almost nonexistent. “I’m fairly certain we’re paying far more for domestic airfare than bandwidth for Evernote,” Engberg said.
Why? Because servers, bandwidth, and overall infrastructure are cheap — so cheap that, for Evernote, they pale in comparison to the real costs: people. For Engberg, the real goal should be ensuring that your talent is happy, well-compensated, and not spending time on projects that come with a lot of work but little payoff.
“Hardware is cheap, so you should be innovating on it as little as possible. Startups should focus on the most established stable commodity infrastructure and then focus on their core businesses and people,” he said.
Here’s a number that drives the point home well: Evernote has a workforce of roughly 330 people, and only 14 of them are working on the company’s technical operations. Not bad for an app with 60 million or so users.
Not sure if No. 4 had any significance, since it’s farther from No. 1 than three other ideas, but just making the Top 5 seems like it’s pretty important.