A Lesson for Silicon Valley Success from Justin.TV

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For once acclaimed start-up Justin.TV success came when the company stopped operating like a Silicon Valley start-up and started thinking outside the paradigm. After a piracy scandal and a 25 percent loss of viewers in one year, Justin.TV now draws 17 million monthly unique visitors by streaming online gamers' games (think: watching people play Halo), something the company didn't think anyone would ever care about. "I didn't get the gaming streaming," founder Justin Kan told Fast Company's Andrew Rice. "I wasn't a fan and I didn't understand it." But, founding successful companies isn't about making the thing that everyone else thinks they want. In fact, it is exactly the opposite, as YCombinator's Paul Graham told Rice. "Anytime you say to yourself, 'Really, people want to do blank?'--that means you've discovered something," he said.

In Silicon Valley, these days, companies operate the way Justin.TV 1.0 did, thinking up start-ups based on a model (SoMoLo) it thinks people will want. That doesn't work, as Rice's profile of the company shows. If Silicon Valley wants to get a little less boring, it might want to take Graham's advice—or that of any of the companies and brands Fast Company shows have "pivoted" in its series on fortune-changing turns.

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