David Packard (1912-1996), a co-founder with William Hewlett of Hewlett Packard (1939), didn’t like costly acquisitions and believed that his company should stay focused. Packard wrote in The HP Way: How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company (1995):
“The Wells Fargo [bank] sent a retired engineeer to visit us. I spenta full afternoon with him and I have remembered ever since some advice he gave me. He said that more businesses die of indigestion than starvation. I have observed the truth of that advice many times since then.”
“More companies die of indigestion than starvation” has been a popular business adage. “More startups die of indigestion than starvation” has been cited in print since 2010.
Wikipedia: David Packard
David Packard (September 7, 1912 – March 26, 1996) was a co-founder, with William Hewlett, of Hewlett-Packard (1939), serving as president (1947–1964), CEO (1964–1968), and Chairman of the Board (1964–1968, 1972–1993). He served as U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense from 1969–1971 during the Nixon administration. Packard served as President of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) from 1976 to 1981. He was also chairman of the Board of Regents from 1973 to 1982. Packard was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1988 and is noted for many technological innovations and philanthropic endeavors.
Management Today (UK)
By Adrian Murdoch. Saturday, 01 November 1997
USA: Lateral Benchmarking Or ... What Formula One Taught An Airline.
Citing David Packard, the co-founder of Hewlett Packard, he quotes: ‘More entrepreneurs die from indigestion than starvation.’
Google Groups: comp.sys.hp.mpe
WSJ: David W. Packard’s Response
Sorry for not getting this out on Wednesday, but here’s the response to the prior WSJ ad. This one is the same size and located in the same place as the Carly ad.
You recall another one of my father’s favorite sayings:
“More companies die of indigestion than starvation.”
There is now a real danger that HP will die of a broken heart.
David W. Packard
c/o Finch Montgomery Wright & Emmer
350 Cambridge Ave. Palo Alto, CA. 94306
This advertisement was written and paid for by David W. Packard, acting as an individual.
Mr. Packard served on the HP board from 1987 to 1999. He himself was a loyal HP (summer) employee in 1957-9.
The Quotable Tycoon:
An Irreverent Collection of Brutally Honest and Inspirational Business Wisdom
By David Olive
Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks
The Wells Fargo [bank] sent a retired engineeer to visit us. I spenta full afternoon with him and I have remembered ever since some advice he gave me. He said that more businesses die of indigestion than starvation. I have observed the truth of that advice many times since then.
DAVID PACKARD, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard, in his 1995 memoir, The HP Way: How Bill Hewlett and I Built Our Company, on HP’s philosophy of shunning costly acquisitions.
Sunday, January 17th, 2010 at 4:34 pm
More Startups Die of Indigestion Than Starvation
I am often asked, as I was today, what are the biggest mistakes that startups make that cause failure. Among them is a lack of focus that can be characterized by the phrase: “more startups die of indigestion than starvation.” It is hard to raise money. Therefore common wisdom would indicate that “starvation” is the biggest risk. However, years of experience show that this is only a part of the truth. Very often when a startup runs out of cash, the root cause is a lack of execution against its plan that was brought on by trying to do more things than their plan or funding allowed.
What Happened to Silicon Values?
BILL DAVIDOW JUN 25 2012, 11:51 AM ET
When I arrived at Hewlett-Packard in 1965, the company was already a $300 million giant. Bill Hewlett’s and Dave Packard’s ideas and principles were in evidence everywhere. I learned a great deal listening to them in meetings and watching them manage. Dave’s memorable quote, “More companies die of indigestion than starvation”—roughly translated, “Focus, stupid”—became one of my own guiding principles.
A dozen things I’ve learned about venture capital (in 999 words)
BY TREN GRIFFIN on July 4, 2013 at 12:29 pm
5. “We like to say that ‘more startups die of indigestion than starvation.’ We are all fascinated by the stories of Steve Jobs and Jack Dorsey, who work on two companies at once, but this is not the norm.” Bill Gurley. One major cause of lost focus is to much money raised by the company too early. Nothing makes people both focused and creative like a lack of money. A little fear focuses the mind. I enjoy explaining to young entrepreneurs how much a fancy chair costs in terms of potential dilution in equity returns.
9/03/2014 @ 3:10PM
The CEO Checklist - What It Takes To Be An Entrepreneurial CEO
By Bryan Stolle
The old adage that more companies die of indigestion than starvation is so true.