The purpose of this paper is to report the findings of an exploratory study on the characteristics of New Zealand start up IT firms that survived the dot.com collapse. The paper is based on the in-depth interviews of nine entrepreneurs of start-up IT firms in New Zealand. The findings reveal how moderate strategy types influence survival, and what core organizational characteristics influenced the realisation of these strategies. These findings indicate that the firms that survived projected characteristics of holistic strategic balance, mastering resources and unifying focus. Successful firms made purposeful choices on resource allocations and realized moderately simple strategies. 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.