21 Top-Notch Jessica Livingston Quotes

Author of ‘Founders at Work,’ Jessica Livingston is the founding partner of Y Combinator. With a collection of interviews from some of the most famous startup founders, here is a look at the most memorable Jessica Livingston quotes to know.

“A lot of the machines that Google is built on—commodity is the polite word for them—they’re regular PCs and so they’re not always the most reliable.”

“I didn’t really want to patent it because, for one, I don’t like software patents, and, two, if you patent it, you make it public. Even if you don’t know someone’s infringing, they will still be getting the benefit.”

“I think business at all costs is just wrong. I think there are certain things that you just don’t do, and that acting with integrity and decency in business to me is just a given. I simply don’t compromise on those things.”

“I think there are very few people who have a capacity to see the future. So it can be difficult when you are talking about something where nothing about it exists yet.”

“I’d say determination is the single most important quality in a startup founder. If the founders I spoke with were superhuman in any way, it was in their perseverance.”


“Innovations seem inevitable in retrospect, but at the time it’s an uphill battle.”

“It was just a few million bucks to take us out of our misery, to pay off our loans.”

“Much better to figure out where the marketplace is going to be in a few years, focus on providing a solution to that, and let the market forces catch up to you.”

“Over the years, I’ve learned that the first idea you have is irrelevant. It’s just a catalyst for you to get started. Then you figure out what’s wrong with it and you go through phases of denial, panic, regret.”

“People like the idea of innovation in the abstract, but when you present them with any specific innovation, they tend to reject it because it doesn’t fit with what they already know.”

“Pick a big enough project, something that’s really hard, something that over the years you can work on.”

“Programmers have not been professionals because they haven’t really cared about quality.”

“Steve did a prepayment on royalties to make sure we had the resources to stay in business.”

“The first business plan is there to make sure you can use Microsoft Word.”

“The less energy people expend on performance, the more they expend on appearances to compensate.”

“The one thing we learned over 5 years is that nothing works better than just improving your product.”

“The really dramatic growth happens when a startup only has three of four people, so only three or four people see that, whereas tens of thousands see business as it’s practiced by Boeing or Philip Morris.”

“We had this angry phone conversation where he said something like,”We’ve been working on this thing for a whole month, and it’s still not finished.” It’s funny in retrospect, because we were still working on it 3 years later.”

“We need to make sure that we are allowing students to be exposed to future technology and not reducing it to current—what a lot of people would like to say,”relevant” teaching.”

“When you build only software that you absolutely need, you don’t get more software than you’ll actually use.”

“You’ve got to be investing today in what your future’s going to be 5 or 10 years out.”

Jessica Livingston discusses the key characteristics they look at in an entrepreneur.

Here are the secret tactics I used to build my website traffic to over 2 million monthly visitors and grow my email list to over 100,000 subscribers:
9 Secrets to Increasing Website Visitors and Email Subscribers