Age and the entrepreneur

Most of you who have been thru or read about the late 1990s internet boom would agree upon one thing – most entrepreners were young (below 30).  Marc Andreessen was just 24 years when he co-founded Netscape. He has published his analysis of the relationship between  age and entrepreneurship based on a paper written by  a professor of psychology at University of California Davis named Dean Simonto. The paper is researched across many fields – science, literature, music, chess, film, politics, and military combat.  The research was done in the pre-internet boom period.

The topic is complex. The blog summarizes the entire topic very well,

  • Generally, productivity — output — rises rapidly from the start of a career to a peak and then declines gradually until retirement.
  • This peak in productivity varies by field, from the late 20s to the early 50s, for reasons that are field-specific.
  • Precocity, longevity, and output rate are linked. “Those who are precocious also tend to display longevity, and both precocity and longevity are positively associated with high output rates per age unit.” High producers produce highly, systematically, over time.
  • The odds of a hit versus a miss do not increase over time. The periods of one’s career with the most hits will also have the most misses. So maximizing quantity — taking more swings at the bat — is much higher payoff than trying to improve one’s batting average.
  • Intelligence, at least as measured by metrics such as IQ, is largely irrelevant.

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