Bill Gross for STVP

When I first heard of Bill Gross, I thought he was the same Bill Gross who heads the world’s largest bond investor PIMCO. Well apparently not.

The other Bill Gross is an MIT grad and internet pioneer who started Overture, Picasa,, Compete to name a few. His company IdeaLab has launched more than 75 companies. His company Overture is also credited for pioneering the search Pay Per Click model that AdWords is using now.

In his STVP podcast “A Devotion to New Ideas” he tells the story of how he started as an entrepreneur by selling home made solar energy kits by direct mail. He started advertising at the back of Popular Mechanics magazines and got to know how the direct mail industry worked.

He co-founded Knowledge Adventure, an maker of educational games for kids which was wildy successful. Their success was attributed to listening to user feedback. Back then their toys and their competitors’ were labeled “For kids 8 to 100”. What they found out from user feedback was that people were confused which toy to get because they didn’t know if the toy would be good for their particular kids’ age. So this prompted Knowledge Adventure to create kids games specific only to one year age group and became a wild success.

Bill has a lot of experience in companies and startups and goes on to say that he wished he had learnt about the lessons that mistakes have brought earlier. One of these lessons was about having the right mix of personality types in a management team.

For a management team or a company to succeed, they have to have these dominant roles or traits:

  • Entrepreneur – actually makes things happen, envision the future, and tries to make them before their time
  • Producer – who actually gets things done
  • Administrator – beaurocrat, sometimes gets in the way of things and helps organize things, to help the trains run on time.
  • Integrator – the people who understands the other three talents and tries to help them get along, because the other types usually hate each other.

Which personality type are you?