I’m not sure I’m a great giver of golden advice, but here’s my list of the best golden advice I’ve been given:
- Manage People — In General, and Earlier. The earlier in your career you can learn how to manage people, the faster you can excel in learning to scale. Managing people isn’t always fun. But embrace it if you want to be a CEO, a founder, and/or be a part of something bigger.
- Listen to “Audibles” and Act on Them. Your best bosses, VPs, mentors and others will give you “audibles” — quick bits of micro-advice during pitches, customer meetings, interviews, etc. While you are in the process of working They’ll see where you could improve in real-time. Take this real-time feedback and leverage it and act on it immediately. If someone else great is in the room with you, these audibles can make the difference between a positive Continue reading "What one business advice will you give me?"
While the answer may sound obvious, I’m not sure it always is in early-ish stage start-ups.
The role of a VP is to own everything required to hit the goals for a functional area – Sales, Marketing, Product, Engineering, Finance, or Customer Success.
- Recruiting the team. This can be hard.
- Hitting the number. And owning coming up short. No “best efforts”.
- Figuring it out. Not being told what to do. Figuring out how to hit the goals for this month, quarter and year in your department.
- Evolving & Growing. The job spec will change over the course of each 6–12 months. A lot.
- Instilling Confidence and Managing Up and Down. Leading the rest of the company to achieve your department goals.
The challenge them becomes, can a “stretch” VP do these 5 things? If so, it’s a stretch well made. If not, you aren’t hiring a real VP. Continue reading "What is the role of a VP?"
Generally, this is the last, best chance to fix things.
Founder equity splits are a tough thing. What seems fair on Day 0 may seem less fair on Day 720. The one that seemed the weaker of the 2 may end up the stronger. A lot can change.
But the thing is, startups are Positive Sum gains. Even owning 10% of something worth $1b+ is nuts.
So if things are fair, they tend not to come a boil here.
And if things are totally broken, one co-founder quits. Or leaves. Or stops working very hard. Etc.
Here, things are probably close to broken.
I’d try to fix it — if
you want to keep her / him. And I’d do it with an additional fair equity grant that vests over 5+ years.
I did it. It worked.
But if the vesting on the next grant is an issue, that founder Continue reading "My co-founder is threatening to quit unless I give him more equity; what should I do?"
Probably none or close to none.
First, I highly doubt Dropbox will end up trading at < $10b so it won’t be a “down-round”
. IPOs are priced conservatively. If we’re at $8b pricing at the IPO, I would be shocked if Dropbox trades below $10b its first week. It’s possible, but unlikely. Most IPOs are intentionally priced at least 20%-30% “low”. That bump alone will likely get Dropbox to $10b+ valuation, at least it’s first quarter out.
Second, early employees’ option exercise prices will be a tiny fraction of $8b-$10b, and later employees tend to get equity grants as RSUs that insulate them from most effects of a modest valuation difference.
Perhaps Dropbox is giving out options with an $8b strike price, but I doubt it. Instead, they likely are giving out RSUs with a $0.00 strike price, with a value determined on a Black-Scholes analysis. Employees would then Continue reading "What impact will Dropbox’s down-round IPO have on employees?"
A few years ago, I would have said No. There’s no way a SaaS startup needs a “CRO” or “COO” or other C-level Officers Without a Clear, Single Functional Area to Own Until $40m-50m+ in ARR.
But … like many things … my views have evolved
Three trends have fueled the rise of hiring COOs and CROs closer to $10m ARR than $50M ARR:
- Faster Growth. If you are growing 40% at $10m in ARR, a COO may be a luxury. If you are growing 150%, it may be a necessity to get help in ASAP to run a material part of the business.
- Specialization. As we’ve all gotten more experienced in SaaS, we’ve specialized more. If your VP of Sales is your closer, you have a VP of Accounts, and a VP of CS … who is going to manage them all? CRO. You want each revenue leader doing Continue reading "Should SAAS startups have CROs or COOs?"
Most – not all – funds with a “hot hand” push for 30% carry after 2+ good funds.
Most – not all- funds with a “super hot hand” push for 30% carry plus 1–99 economics on the fees, which can work out to close to 40% effective carry depending on returns.
Not all funds push the edge here, but the reality is, funds with Top Decline track records that are truly oversubscribed can push economics here well beyond 2/20. Sometimes as far as 2x beyond it.
Not all choose to do it. LPs don’t like it, and they remember. But if they still see outsized returns, many — certainly not all — will sign up.
Accelerators are different. Many will effectively have even higher carry.
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For me at least, writing is one of the best ways to synthesize and hone your knowledge.
It forces you to reflect on what you have learned, distill it into a group of succinct learnings, and then reflect on how best to share them.
IMHO & experiences, honing your learnings and thought processes are one of the best ways to push yourself to be a better mentor, leader, investor, etc.
Vs. just shooting from the hip.
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