Indeed.com's Exit: A billion reasons to focus on one thing early and do it ridiculously well

I'm so excited to hear that Indeed.com, a company that Union Square Ventures invested in while I worked there, just exited for a reported billion dollars.

Back in 2005, I was a lowly analyst at Union Square Ventures with a million product ideas that I'd blog about all the time.  When you're on the VC side, you come up with a lot of ideas, because every company you see inspires three new things you wish someone would build across a wide variety of sectors.  When Brad Burnham brought in Paul and Rony from Indeed.com, you couldn't find two entrepreneurs more frustrating to interact with for a bright eyed idea-a-minute kind of guy like myself. 

Indeed did one thing.  It put all the jobs in one place.  That was it.  It was a ridiculously simple premise, but terrifically hard to get as right as they got it.  Instead of flashy partnerships or lots of features, they focused on things like search quality and site speed.  They knew that if the job you were looking for was out there, and they surfaced it quickly, without a lot of fuss, you'd come back.  It worked.  The search results *were* noticably better, and the simpler site was quick and responsive.

That wasn't the easiest strategy to stay true to, given the environment.  Oodle was trying to index lots of different categories of classifieds, not just jobs.  SimplyHired raised a bunch of money and announced a big partnership with MySpace.  Unfazed, Paul and Rony just kept chugging forward--the site looks almost exactly the same as it did when it first launched. 

Anyone can come up with a feature idea--but few people are good at saying no.  When things aren't working, it's easy to think that a new feature solves the problem, versus taking features away.  Paul and Rony are a terrific example of steadfastness and focus in a sea of constant change, and I'm so happy their strategy paid off for them.

If you reduce a big opportunity into a simple solution and be amazing at it, you'll do quite well.  Congrats guys.