Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

Missionary vs Mercenary CEOs

Missionaries build better products and companies than mercenaries do.  This is an idea that both Jeff Bezos, the founder of, and John Doerr, a legendary investor at Kleiner Perkins both agree upon.

Over the last several years, I’ve started to have a great admiration for certain CEOs; leaders whom have built companies that generally awed me.   I always knew I liked them, but I could never exactly articulate the reasons why.   Finally, after watching Jeff Bezo talk about the difference between Missionary and Mercenary CEOs this weekend, I finally found a clear framework that could explain my feelings better than I could say them myself.  The CEOs who I admired were the Missionary CEOs.

The main difference between the two is that the Missionaries are entrepreneurs who are deeply passionate about their mission; they’ll do whatever possible to achieve that mission.  The mercenaries on the other hand, are primarily interested in making money.   Although making money is not the primary motivator for missionaries,  they still do understand the need to run a profitable business because it’s essential for them to fulfill their mission.

Mark Zuckerberg is a good example of a missionary CEO.   Mark said that his mission was to help people share more, he was not interested in creating a business. But eventually he had to create the business because it was the only vehicle that would allow him to carry out his mission; to make the world more open and connected by helping people share information.

The mercenary is likely to have a specific amount of money they want to make, and they’d feel like a failure if they didn’t make it.  A Mercenary CEO goes into their business wanting to demolish other competitors by acquiring all of the competitors customers, but not necessarily by providing the best products & services possible to those customers.  Their primary objective is to reach their monetary goal and they’ll create a business around it to achieve their financial goals.  They would more likely be in it to flip the company and that’s all they care about.  They want to make money quick and they do not generally care as much about their customers, their customers are only there to provide them with what they want.  Instead of measuring their success by the impact they are making in the world, they are primarily measuring their success by reviewing their financial statements.

You probably know of some mercenaries already; they would be someone whose told you that they want to make X amount of money in a certain amount of years, or Y amount of month per month: not about how much they want to change the world.

A missionary would say something different; they might say something like they want to help X amount of companies in the world or affect Y number of people positively during their lifetimes.  The missionary CEO gauges their success by the value they provide to the world, not just the amount of they make.    They want to provide the absolute best service possible, and don’t take many shortcuts. They would only sell the company if it genuinely helped them to achieve their original mission, and not because it would just be a huge financial windfall.

This is why both John Doerr and Jeff Bezos prefer to work with Missionary CEOs.  The Missionary CEOs build better products, and greater and longer lasting companies.

The irony of it all, says Bezos, is that the Missionaries are the ones who generally make more money than the Mercenaries in the long run anyways.

In the past I was a Mercenary CEO.   While I was in high school, I saw an article about Kevin Rose in BusinessWeek; that this kid made 60 million dollars in 18 months.  The article of course, was misleading, but that  point doesn’t matter.  What was important, was that after reading it, I decided that I would drop out of college later, move to Silicon Valley, start a tech company and sell it.  And that’s exactly what I did, just like a Mercenary would do.  But after all of that, something was missing, it felt a little empty because that’s all that it was.  It was a quick race to get in and out; there was nothing grander than that.

While what we built was admirable at the time, we could have done a lot more if I was more of a Missionary CEO who had a larger vision of where we could be in the next 10 years and be dedicated to getting there.  Instead I came with a Mercenary plan, to build the company and exit it.  I built something a lot less impressive than I could have had I not been so persistent in wanting to sell a company.   I thought that was success.   I should have started a company that I wanted to continue growing and be apart of long term, something that I was genuinely passionate about.  If I had that, it’s possible that I would still be building some great today with huge value, and not starting all over on a new company again.

The companies making the largest impacts in the world are mostly being lead by Missionary CEOs.  Think of CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs and Phil Libin of EverNote; all of these CEOs have a passionate mission for building something great by doing whatever they do are doing.   Phil Libin has said he wants to build a company that’ll last over 100 years; he is thinking long term and fulfilling a mission to simply help people securely store their notes forever.  He does not care about selling the company, he wants to build something amazing, because he cares.  He is passionate about it and that is why he will build a better product than someone else who simply wants to build a note-sharing app flip within 5 years.  Steve Jobs went back to work for Apple without pay for a period of time, he was genuinely interested in helping Apple fulfill it’s mission to provide the best computers possible.  If he were a mercenary trying to make a profit, the Apple company we know today wouldn’t be the same.

I should say before ending this too, that there is nothing wrong about being a Mercenary.  It’s just a different path.  But it’s good to understand both of them because it can make a profound difference in your entrepreneurial future,  3, 5, or 10+ year’s from now (if you even still continue to build your company).  I know many Mercenaries that are happy with what they do; they are not trying to change the world.  They know that, some of them.  They are in business to provide a lifestyle they want and desire, and that is what they do, and there is nothing wrong with that too.  But now you know the difference.  Do you want to just make money, or do you want to go on a mission to solve a huge problem?  What are you right now, a Missionary or a Mercenary, and what will you be in the future?

If you liked this article, please “Like” it, share it and comment below. 🙂

Extra Reading:


Why You Should Share More & The Blog Is Back!

Sharing makes you bigger. If you hear a good idea, share it. If you share a life changing idea with ten people, they get to hear it once, but you get to hear it ten times. So it’s in your best interest to share it with others! We call this, “enlightened self-interest.”

Enlightened self-interest is a philosophy in ethics which states that persons who act to further the interests of others (or the interests of the group or groups to which they belong), ultimately serve their own self-interest.

I plan on doing a lot of sharing this year.  I want to share ideas through this blog, to help both you and me.  I want to  help you learn from my experiences.  And I need a place to write and reflect on everything that has happend to me.  This blog will be my sharing platform, and I hope to give you every ounce of quality reading material I can possibly create for you.

So I just threw together a quick amazon EC2 server and RDS server, updated my wesmahler_wordpress and we are back online!  It’s been over three years since I last wrote on this blog.  A lot has happend since then.  The blog still needs to be updated and will be shortly.  But as far as what to expect,  I have a lot of experiences to share with everyone and it’ll be a fun read.  This blog will include articles about entrepreneurship, personal development, philosophies, books, great ideas, relationships, both business and personal, legal matters, technology trends, flying, traveling and working abroad, great food and how to get the most out of life.  Oh and we’ll show you how to go from zero to one million dollars a year in sales too, this blog’s headline is out of date and we can now share with you how to do it :).

Please subscribe to my RSS feed if you haven’t done so already.  More post will follow shortly!

The Team On This Day July 29th, 2009

Here is a snap-shot of our team on this day. We’ve recently brought on a lot of help.

Wes Mahler
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Twitter: @wesmahler
Username: T202Wes

September 2007

Steven Truong
Chief Operating Officer (COO), President
Twitter: @steventruong
Username: T202Steven

September 2007

Jennifer Louie
Web & Graphic Designer
Twitter: @jenniferlouie
Username: T202Jennifer
Since August 2008

Aaron Glinski
IT Support Rep, Video Production Manager
Twitter: @paperdonut
Username: T202Aaron
Since January 2009

Man Ma
Software Engineer
Twitter: @t202man
Username: T202Man
Since February 2009

Roland Navarro
VP of Business Development
Twitter: @reachroland
Username: T202Roland
Since April 2009

Nana Gilbert-Baffoe
VP of Sales
Twitter: @nanagilbertb
Username: T202Nana
Since April 2009

Justin Barr
Publisher Manager
Twitter: @justinbarr
Username: T202Justin
Since July 2009

Feldo Nartapura
Publisher Manager
Twitter: @wheresfeldo
Username: T202Feldo
Since July 2009

Wes Moehlenbruck
Advertising Manager
Twitter: @masterlesamurai
Username: T202Brooks
Since July 2009

Alexander Tsatkin
Publisher Manager
Twitter: @tsatkin
Username: T202Alex
Since July 2009

Rachelle Navarro
Operations Manager
Twitter: N/A
Username: T202Rachelle
Since July 2009

Introducing Alerts202 – Offer Email Alert Notifications

Alerts202 is a new product we are proud to release today. Alerts202 is a simple offer alert notification system that we’ve built using our new Offers202 API. The alerts service allows you to monitor new offers being added into Offers202.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you want to see all of the new "credit report" offers coming out. Simply login to Alerts202 and add a new offer alert for "credit report." Now any time a new "credit report" offer is added you will receive an email notification telling you about the offer.
Now you will know every time a new "credit report" offer comes out. This is especially useful if you are an advertiser. Now you can monitor your own niche and see anytime a new advertiser comes out with a competing product or service. You will always be up to date every time a new offer comes in that you’d like to know about.

Alerts202 is a free application; you can use it by logging in our Tracking202 Dashboard and clicking over to the Alerts202 tab. We have also have created an Alerts202 API for any developers out there.

Here is an example screenshot from an "acai" offer alert, shown in gmail. Click the image to enlarge it.

Mark Pincus’ Two Core Philosophies In Building Their Succesful Gaming Company Zynga

I wanted to share two core philosophies that Mark Pincus @markpinc had on building his company Zynga. We sat on this interview during the Startup2Startup event, you can see the whole interview here.

Mark Pincus On The Inspiration Behind Social Games And The Future of The App Economy

Last night Dave McClure interviewed serial entrepreneur Mark Pincus, who has run the social game development firm Zynga for the past two years, growing it to over 300 full-time employees and an estimated $50 to 100 million in revenue.

After speaking briefly about his past entrepreneurial experiences, which started in the 1990s with Pointcast competitor Freeloader and most notably includes the early social network Tribe, Mark dove into the inspiration behind Zynga and social games in general. He described how his experience with Tribe taught him that he was more interested in building extensions, or plugins, for social networks than the social networking containers themselves. So when Facebook prepared to open up to 3rd party applications in 2007, he jumped at the chance to become that network’s premier social games provider, even though many people – including Facebook’s own Dave Morin – doubted the viability of social games at the time.

Aside from believing that games were simply the “coolest thing” for people to do together on social networks, Mark believed they fit two particular insights. First, since Tribe had suffered from user engagement, with its most engaged members actually costing the site much more than they gave back, Mark was looking to build a product that aligned engagement with monetization. Gamers tend to spend more money the more they play, so Zynga was established with the idea that it could make money from the early days and enjoy even greater revenue as engagement increased.

Mark also realized from his own gaming addictions that people were willing to spend money to beat others in competition. Gamers who don’t have the skill to beat their online opponents without assistance are often eager to pay for advantages, or power-ups, that make it possible for them to win faster and save time. Zynga was therefore predicated on the notion that virtual goods should impact gameplay, not just add extra value around the edges.

So far these insights have paid off, with Zynga exploding in growth over the past year from about 60 employees to over 300. This has been a managerial challenge for the company, and it has required the institutionalization of corporate processes that were vital if irksome to many employees. He described how startups need to introduce delegation at around 50 employees and really start to bend under the weight of 200+ employees. For Zynga, this required painful changes to how things are run, but Mark says these changes have laid the foundation for another doubling in the company’s size.

Mark’s most intriguing remarks of the night were about how he predicts online distribution and monetization to change over the next 5-10 years. He believes that we’re moving towards an app economy where most internet services with be distributed over platforms. These apps will derive most of their revenue from digital goods and services, not advertising. Basically, users will begin paying for things online at a much higher volume, and developers will use metrics and game mechanics (even with non-games) to maximize engagement and profitability. A corollary to this trend will be making all consumer services more fun, since enjoyment encourage users to pay for more virtual goods and upgrades.

This paid goods vision of the web hinges on the availability of better and more pervasive payment systems. However, Mark thinks it’s still to-be-determined how the payments market will play out, and he anticipates that there will be many players at many different levels of the ecosystem. Because of his optimism for online payments and the app economy in general, he encourages all of the big players (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc) to get more involved as platforms or risk losing out on the more private corners of the web.


Our 4th of July Revolution202 Launch

written by steven & nana

Happy Fourth of July to everyone in the U.S. and everyone who chooses to celebrate this holiday with us today, also known as Happy Independence Day! Today marks the launch of our new network, the Revolution202 Partner Network! It has been a long journey getting here and launching our own network but is also a natural progression in the growth of where 202 is headed. It is with this in mind that I wanted to announce our launch today. However, this is only a pre-launch and although we’re accepting applications starting today, this is currently invite only, meaning we’re limiting the number of affiliates who gets to be the first to join our network. Be one of the first to join and apply today!

With that said, it is important to note that if you are a current 202 user, your 202 username and password is universal across all 202 services. When applying for Revolution202, please login using your existing 202 username if you have one as this will make things much easier for you. If you’re new, don’t worry, you can still apply and create a new 202 account.

Today also marks a huge national holiday for the U.S., Independence Day. It is the anniversary of when the United States Declaration of Independence was signed 233 years ago, on July 4th, 1776, when the United States (the thirteen originally British colonies) officially gained its independence from the British Empire. This was the day our nation celebrated the birth of the United States; so in essence, the United States itself is celebrating its 233rd birthday.

The history behind how the United States were formed as a result of declaring its independence from the British Empire was the result of the occurrence of the American Revolutionary War, also known as the American War of Independence. The war began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen united former British colonies on the North American continent, and ended in a global war between several European great powers. This war was the culmination of the political American Revolution, whereby the colonists rejected the right of the Parliament of Great Britain to govern them without representation.

In 1775, revolutionaries gained control of each of the thirteen colonial governments, set up the Second Continental Congress, and formed a Continental Army. Petitions to the king to intervene with the parliament on their behalf resulted in Congress being declared traitors and the states in rebellion the following year. The Americans responded by formally declaring their independence as a new nation, the United States of America, claiming sovereignty and rejecting any allegiance to the British monarchy.

The sources and interpretation of the Declaration has been the subject of much scholarly inquiry. The Declaration justified the independence of the United States by listing colonial grievances against King George III, and by asserting certain natural rights, including a right of revolution. Having served its original purpose in announcing independence, the text of the Declaration was initially ignored after the American Revolution. Its stature grew over the years, particularly the second sentence, a sweeping statement of human rights:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

All this came about due to a change or shift and as a result of the American Revolution. The term “Revolution” can be defined as a sudden, momentous, radical, or complete change; a dramatic change or fundamental shift in the way of thinking or visualization; and activity or movement designed to effect the fundamental changes in the socioeconomy. It is with this definition in mind that we find it fitting to launch our Revolution202 Partner Network today. What are you waiting for? Join the Revolution!

Video Interview With Paul Bourque From UberAffiliate On Becoming An Advertiser

Paul Bourque is an extremely successful pay per click affiliate, runs the blog and is now on route to becoming a large advertiser in our space. Paul is mainly known for his blog which is focused on sharing tips and tricks to help you generate more revenue using PPC. You can find all of his articles by going to his Affiliate Marketing Guide. Please go through his guide if you have not had a chance to see all of the articles there. Many times we will simply read the most recent blog posts, but we forget that there are a lot of great posts that were also written in the past.

In this interview Paul talks about becoming an advertiser. After you’ve been in the industry for awhile you’ll notice once Affiliates start taking different paths. Some will create large affiliate networks, some will become advertisers, some will become service providers like us and of course some will continue to become bigger and bigger players in the affiliate space. Paul has decided to make the move to become one of the advertisers in the space and in this interview we’ve talked about his experiences and challenges in doing so.

You can read Paul’s blogger over at, and you can follow him on twitter at If you’ve enjoyed this video post a comment to let us know what you think.

If you haven’t already, you can catch our recently posted video series through TV202:

If you enjoyed this interview, please subscribe to our blog, follow us on twitter and join our newsletter.

How Jonathan Volk Scaled Past $300,000/month (video interview)

We had a pleasure to interview Jonathan Volk, one of our very good friends, and a very successful affiliate marketer. Jonathan is the founder of Surge Marketing, a performance marketing company. Jonathan is best known for his blog “” where he blogs about tips & strategies people can use to increase their PPC marketing efforts.

During Ad:Tech SF 2009, Jonathan and I had a lengthy interview about scaling PPC campaigns. Specifically we asked how he has scaled to over $300,000+/month in commissions, to learn how he did it watch the video! To read more of his stuff, visit Jonathan’s blog, or follow him on twitter at:

Stay tuned for theses up and coming interviews:

If you haven’t already, you can catch our recently posted video series through TV202:

If you enjoyed this interview, please subscribe to our blog, follow us on twitter and join our newsletter.

Meetup202 AdTech Speakers – Jonathan Volk, Ralph Ruckman, Dennis Yu, Larby Amirouche and Paul Bourque

Here are some speaker presentations during our meetup202 event last ad:tech. I think I probably had a little bit to much to drink before getting on stage, as you will notice. But we all still had a great time, if you missed it, check out our up and coming meetups here.

Jonathan Volk

Ralph Ruckman

Dennis Yu & Paul Bourque