The purpose of this paper is to report the findings of an exploratory study on the characteristics of New Zealand start-up Information Technology (IT) firms that survived the dot.com collapse. The paper is based on in-depth interviews of nine entrepreneurs of start-up IT firms. The findings reveal core organizational characteristics that influence the realization of moderate strategies enabling survival. The firms that survived, projected characteristics of holistic strategic balance, mastering of resources, portrayed a unifying focus and made purposeful choices on resource allocations. In contrast, firms that failed projected a general lack of strategic balance, mastering and trade-off. These firms’ organizational themes realized excessively complex strategies with no distinct focus.