Monthly Archives: October 2010

How do investors handle failure?

Failcon Investor Panel

Liveblogging a panel led by Adriana Gardella (NYT), with Esther Dyson (EdVenture Holdings), Cindy Padnos (Illuminate Ventures), Manu Kumar (K9 Ventures), and Guy Hirsch (SayHired) at Failcon:

When you found that one of your entrepreneurs was failing, what did you do? Continue reading

When employees steal your soda, ur doin it rong

“One day, a sign appeared on a soda fridge saying: Drinks cost Microsoft millions of dollar a year. Sodas are your perk at work. Don’t bring them home.”

It turns out the “soda incident” was the most commented-on part of Philip Su’s goodbye letter to Microsoft. Why?

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Want a great exit? Build a great culture.

Asked about the importance of culture in making an acquisition, he didn’t hesitate for a second. Guido Jouret, Cisco’s CTO of Emerging Technology, said “We pass on acquisitions if the culture isn’t right. If it isn’t right, nothing else matters.”

Jouret is responsible for incubating Cisco’s future billion-dollar businesses, so I asked him after he gave the keynote at last week’s Plug and Play Expo what he thought the critical qualities in a startup’s culture that he looked for in acquisition. I shouldn’t have been surprised that he’d rattle off four things instantly…

Continue reading

Applause for Twitter CEO Transition to Co-Founder

I was reading the TechCrunch article about the Twitter founder Evan Williams who stepped down as CEO this week, moving former COO Dick Costolo into the role of CEO. Evan Williams, a member of the founding team, played the role of CEO from 20 employees to 300, and 1.25 million Tweets per day to 90 million per day. Both of those are approximately 10x multiples. Evan has been CEO for two years, since Oct 2008.

Growing a company from 20 people to 300 means you’ve grown through the milestone of 100-120 employees. As a founder, this is right around the time that you you start to see people in the halls, and wonder if they work there, or are just visiting. Before that point, you likely recognize pretty much everyone. It also means that if you averaged out the hiring, a new person has been joining the Twitter team every other workday throughout those two years. That’s fast! Continue reading

Simplify your ToDo list (part 1)

I’m mostly agnostic about how people track their To Do list, and I’ve seen nearly every system work and fail: walls full of post-its, whiteboards, online calendars, iPhone apps, GTD, handwritten paper lists, index cards, and Excel spreadsheets. In general, the system that works for people is the system they’re willing to commit to and use regularly, and nearly anything will work. For entrepreneurs who are having trouble juggling all of their responsibilities and commitments, I tend to track their major commitments week after week, so that we can notice patterns in what is getting done, and what isn’t.

In a typical week with no major emergencies, several of the items on the list will be finished, or at least be off to a good start. But, there are often a few items that linger on someone’s to do list for several weeks or even months. When that happens, the client and I do some detective work to figure out what’s going on. Continue reading