Announcing "Pivot," the first print issue of Meridian, dedicated to all of those times you’ve heard old startup ideas and said: “They used to do what?”
Pivots are a change in strategy without a change in mission. Your mission might be similar to those mentioned in this issue: securing generational wealth, getting 15 minutes of fame, getting history-textbook-level fame, making ads easier to buy, staying employable, helping create a culture of writing in Silicon Valley…or finding life on alien planets.
Your pivot might also be similar: going online during a pandemic then moving back offline once things open up, saving your crumbling business from failure by pulling out a small feature and selling it, moving to a new social media network to find a bigger audience.
This magazine is beautiful, but we don’t want to glorify pivots. Pivots are a powerful, challenging tool that should be used wisely.
To that end, this issue is not about all pivots — it’s specifically about good pivots. We haven’t, for example, covered the startups that pivoted from crypto in 2022 to AI in 2023 or the 2015 “pivot to video” trend that decimated media startups. Good pivots aren’t about chasing hype cycles or hopping around without a mission. They can only emerge from deep inside of yourself, gathered from your observations of the world. They have timing, intention, and strategy on their side.
Maybe your pivot comes to you after a talk with a mentor, a word of advice from a family member, a page in a business book, a scene laid out in a science fiction novel, the sound of spring birds.
Or, maybe it comes to you after reading one of the articles in this issue. We hope you enjoy it.
Highlights from "Pivot"
- “[When pivoting,] choose an area where you have significant advantages for success. You’ll also need to have established trust with your investors and have enough capital left to test your idea.” — Eric Hippeau, VC at Lerer Hippeau in What’s your favorite pivot?
- “A lot of people pivot when they shouldn’t. If you have time and money, the idea that your new idea will be better than your old one isn’t right. Maybe you haven’t worked hard enough on the old idea. We didn’t have that problem. There wasn’t a pivot, I was only thinking — OK, diving catch.” — Ben Horowitz, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz in A diving catch
- “School punishes passion. But not life. Life rewards passion.” — David Perell, founder of Write of Passage in Teaching Silicon Valley how to write
- “Whiplash is a big thing when you’re pivoting at the early stages, especially when you’ve hired a team. This can be dangerous. If you pivot too much, your team will have a hard time seeing where they’re going.” — Elizabeth Yin, GP at Hustle Fund in Avoiding pivot whiplash
- ”Most businesses will eventually face a bet-the-company choice; business models change over time, and sometimes these shifts require a step-function change in what a company does and how it sells its products. The big late-stage pivots tend to look too early from the outside and feel too late from the inside. They’re partly about adapting, and partly about being acutely aware of the risk of leaving the technological/economic slipstream. Even if you never consciously bet the company, you’re still gambling, you’re just staying deliberately blind to the odds.” — Byrne Hobart, founder of The Diff in On bet-the-company ideas
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You can always contact the team with pitches, questions, and comments at [email protected].
Meghna Rao is the editor of Mercury's digital magazine, which is dedicated to the world of tech and the humans that make it.