We’ve been having a running joke within Foundry Group for several years about “stealth mode.” My partner Seth alludes to it in his blog post a few years back titled To stealth or not to stealth. I’ve always been on the side of “not to stealth” but after watching the remarkable stealth experience of Trada, thinking about how Niel Robertson (Trada’s CEO), Seth, and the Trada team have effectively used stealth mode, and reflecting on what “stealth mode” actually means, I’ve changed my mind.
Niel wrote a brilliant post on this titled The Stealth Mode: Trada’s Position on Staying Stealth. I read it carefully when he first wrote it. I just read it carefully again. You should also. It’s one of the best posts I’ve ever read on this topic.
Even though I enjoy hazing Seth, after reading the post again this morning, I thought about how other companies in our portfolio have been effective at using stealth mode principles from Niel’s post. Even though Zynga is extremely visible these days, a number of the principles have consistently applied throughout the business, especially in the first year. Oblong, which is absolutely crushing it, has been “playing their own game” for a long time. AdMeld, another company that Seth is on the board of, adhered to many of these principles as they built up a massive position in their market. And we’ve got another stealth company quietly building something amazing which I’m sure they’ll start talking about when they are ready.
Niel redefines stealth mode very nicely in his post and then applies it to how Trada went from an idea being bounced around between him, Seth, and a few other folks to a very unique business, growing like crazy, with no direct competitors or fast followers. Sure – competitors may appear over time, but the head start that Trada has is dramatic and their ability to lead their market segment now that they’ve emerged from stealth mode is insured.
Read Niel’s post The Stealth Mode: Trada’s Position on Staying Stealth. Actually, read it once, send it around to your executive team, read it again, and then discuss how it applies to your business. It’ll be worth your time.