On Luck

With two such random linkages in the path between startups and money, it shouldn’t be surprising that luck is a big factor in deals. And yet a lot of founders are surprised by it.

I didn’t realize how much of a role luck plays and how much is outside of our control.

If you think about famous startups, it’s pretty clear how big a role luck plays. Where would Microsoft be if IBM insisted on an exclusive license for DOS?

Why are founders fooled by this? Business guys probably aren’t, but hackers are used to a world where skill is paramount, and you get what you deserve.

- Paul Graham, partner in YCombinator and really smart person

I’m having trouble understanding how someone in this position is able to justify this definition of luck. Everything that you do or don’t do in the context of a startup will dictate how your startup does, and to say that there are relevant external factors that you can’t somehow affect seems crazy.

Now, I should disclose, I know nothing about running a startup. I hear it’s fucking hard. Just read the entire article. And this is kind of an idealist rant. But shrugging your shoulders and muttering “luck” seems like some sort of survival mechanism for mental health, without it you would beat yourself to death over every mistake and failure that you make.