Book Review – Blitzscaling by Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh


Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies at first worried me that another startup jargon word was being coined and championed into the startup vernacular. However, noticing that the authors were LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman and startup author and designer Chris Yeah, I chose to give it a go. We do have a small startup after all, Vouchie, and I have read the core startup texts by Eric Reis, Peter Thiel, and Ash Maurya, so what else is new to learn? The sub-title, The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies, holds a lofty promise. If there was to be anything that we could apply to Vouchie or assist our clients in this phase of their own business development, it can only be good.

Blitzscaling the term is used to describe rapid and revolutionary business growth and development. We are not talking about just any business here, we are talking about the “unicorns” such as Facebook, AirBNB, Uber, Google, Facebook, and the like that grew huge and very quickly relative to traditional businesses that you might find in Good to Great. How did they do it? Blitzscaling the book offers to tell us and arm us with the tools to do likewise.

Another element is inherent in the term blitzscaling and the books takes us to the military (and sad) history of the word blitz for the added layer of meaning. This is the no-holds-barred, attacking, aggressive and destruction side part of the meaning coming from military strategy including the German blitzkrieg. (Spoiler though, the military strategy “blitz” was earlier found in British military). Bringing us back to the stories of modern business growth strategies, the stories of Uber and AirBNB for example, we can understand where their speed, and aggression over efficiency, can align with our prior knowledge of the term.

For us at HyperWeb our focus is on creating partnerships with our clients to achieve competitive success. Blitzscaling offers strategies and techniques for scaling up a business at such a rapid rate that its competitors are left in a cloud of dust. Whether the growth is into a new uncontested marketspace or an exponential increase in market share from existing competitors, it surely is an attractive proposition to work toward.

The book details four growth factors: market size, distribution, high-growth margins, and network effects. One of the great aspects of this book as that they go into each of these in business operational sense, rather than relying solely on anecdote. Trough examples from companies very familiar to us, we are helped to see the principles in action. The book doesn’t neglect limiters to growth either, which is always welcome in the world of startup and scale-up blind optimism.

Covering business model innovation, strategy, management, and looking beyond business, there are seven proven patterns, four underlying principles, and a number of case studies that help the reader put everything together and see what is applicable to them. Thus the book serves as a guide that, despite, its lofty promise, allows any business at any stage of business life cycle to think and apply new techniques and strategies to their own business growth. It allows us to form a greater understanding of the modern business environment and the opportunities it presents for us.

While I nicknamed the book “How to Make a Unicorn”, the principles and strategies were easy to understand and if applied to any business, may not result in a unicorn, but just might result in growth and scale.

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