To Be And To Last #6

This week we explore Atlassian’s contrarian path to $42B, Genghis Khan’s empire that ended in a pandemic, and the dark horse of big tech: pizza.

Bootstrapping to $42B market cap

Atlassian ($42B market cap) offers a suite of enterprise software, a product category that normally operates through sales teams, high value purchases, and slow bureaucratic payment terms. Atlassian managed to bootstrap their way to the top of this industry with very little venture capitalist investment, and they did so by turning the enterprise model on its head: marketing rather than sales, low priced rather than high priced, and volume rather than big corporate purchases.

And for a more codified approach to bootstrapping, definitely check out Rework, written by the founders of Basecamp. The bite-sized lessons (“Ignore the details early on”, “Launch now”) succinctly capture many of the same themes as Atlassian above, and some would say the authors are taking a page from their own playbook (“Pick a fight”) as they launched a new product this month ( while picking a fight with Apple over payment commissions.

The largest contiguous land empire in history

Did you know that the Mongol Empire was the largest continuous land empire and the second largest empire in history (after the British Empire)? I recently enjoyed listening to Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, which opened my eyes to this fascinating period in history.

Despite misperceptions, Genghis Khan (the founder of the empire) built an empire featuring substantial freedom of religion, free trade, and other freedoms that largely didn’t exist outside the empire. While Genghis arguably did a better job passing on power than most other empire builders, subsequent claimants to the title of Golden Khan began to drift afield, and the empire eventually collapsed when the Bubonic Plague interrupted the free trade which was holding it together.

Pizza: a winning stock pick?

It’s well known that the real winners in tech are the suppliers: supplying computing power (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud) or supplying customers (Google Ads, Facebook Ads). But who supplies the suppliers?

Ok, so maybe Domino’s growth isn’t entirely fueled by hackathons, but they’ve certainly illustrated the power of combining two strengths (decent pizza + excellent delivery). If I’d only based my stock purchases off a literal interpretation of Snow Crash

PS: That Dominos vs Google graph above? It doesn’t include dividends, which actually place Dominos well into the lead.

To Be And To Last: Thinker Nate Desmond’s weekly roundup of long reads, contrarian thoughts, and hidden jewels that aren’t getting enough attention.

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