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Culture matters even at the start

on Fri, 02/22/2013 - 14:41

A few days ago, Todd McKinnon asserted in a WSJ blog article that "long term success is not predicated on creating a world-class company culture." He also states "Forget about cultural fit and instead get people in the door that can create a beautiful product and bring passion to the problems your company is out to solve."

My friend Bob Mason blogged a response suggesting that people's beliefs on the importance of company culture would quickly shift to a quasi-religious battle between believers & non-believers.

Let me firmly place myself in the camp of those who believe culture, and

Families - not age - affects startups

on Fri, 02/22/2013 - 13:15

On February 17, 2013, Scott Kirsner of the Boston Globe wrote an article Exploring the Age Divide in Boston Start-Ups. It infuritated me for two reasons: 1) It's probably true, but 2) for different reasons than Scott asserted.

Scott's premise is that start-ups are only the domain of young, 20-somethings. He concludes "older people" (over 30?) don't do startups because they:

  1. Moved to - and so work - in the 'burbs;
  2. Won't put in the hours required by a startup;
  3. Have atrophying skills (e.g. Java vs. RoR);
  4. Are less malleable and trainable;
  5. Have higher salary expectations than startups can supply;

Founding CEO succession

on Sun, 11/18/2012 - 04:30

In both my venture-backed companies I was founding CEO; but wasn't CEO forever. The data says this is quite typical. Noam Wasserman's book The Founder's Dilemmas, cites the following statistics out of 3,600+ startups surveyed (9,900 founders) over 10 years:

Percentage of startups still being led by the Founder-CEO
  Founding A-round B-round C-round D-round
On 3rd (or more ) CEO 0% 6% 9% 17% 23%
On 2nd CEO 0% 19% 29% 35% 38%
Founder still CEO 100% 75% 62% 48% 39%

If you're a founding CEO, what should you think about this?

Your child (company) will someday grow up and move away

on Fri, 10/26/2012 - 15:27

Every founder wants their company to be a success. In my book, founding CEOs carry an extra bit of mental or emotional burden for the success, since the buck stops there.

If you're lucky, you'll get to see it happen. But - then what? I experienced that this week.

Managing seed / angel to Series A

on Wed, 10/10/2012 - 14:27

Angel investors have been around for a long time. But starting 2-4 years ago, the growth in wealth of successful entrepreneurs & investors means angels are proliferating at a geometric rate.  They've also been able to become more organized, with angel groups like the Common Angels, and angel investor products like Angel List.  At the same time, classic venture firms started making small, angel/seed-stage investments. Lots of investments, in fact.

The result has been really great in some ways: There is an amazing explosion of startups that are getting a chance at building a business.

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