A regular question of my students at UC Berkeley is "How do I select my first/next job? How do I know the culture is right for me?" Paraphrasing Jordan B. Peterson When a society is corrupt, then the powerful rule. When a society isn't corrupt, then the great have authority. What is greatness? When the … Continue reading Startup Culture Observations
[Earlier I wrote about the different vehicles] You're sitting on a board and the CEO presents some proposed grants. Motion to approve - second - all in favor - ay. Here's what you should have asked before the board meeting. A. Economics What's the vesting schedule? What are these options worth right now? What do … Continue reading Board Questions to ask about Stock Options, NSOs, ISOs, Restricted Stock, Restricted Stock Units (RSUs).
Benchmarks are great to tell you where you are compared to others. In venture capital, there are three common problems with benchmarks: History, math, and ego. 1. Benchmarks are History Benchmarks are backward looking. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Maybe market mechanics changed. Maybe the supply and demand of startup funding in … Continue reading The Pitfalls of Benchmarks.
Enterprise CTOs or CIOs often ask me about how IT will change in the future, about the "Disruption of Technology in 3-5 years". Most CTOs and CIOs realize that that is primarily a strategic question rather than a question about a certain vendor or technology. I usually explore the specific challenges together with the executive … Continue reading The Future of IT: The Next Five Years.
I talk a lot with very large enterprises in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Sometimes they have a question regarding their IT infrastructure, sometimes they want to hear about shifts in industry trends (few of them want to hear 'trends in the Silicon Valley,' thank god!). Sooner or later they tell me about their digital … Continue reading Digital Transformation Strategy — You Don’t Need One.
I feel puzzled how vaguely some startup CEOs send their executives on their way to execute a "mission". Mission Statements describe the who, what, when, where, and why (the 5 W’s) of how a mission will be executed. A mission has one -- and only one! -- main goal. You might have one (one!) side … Continue reading Improve Your Mission Statements.
I mainly help U.S.-based companies set up shop and scale for revenue in non-US regions. But I see more and more interesting deals where European or Asian companies are coming to the U.S. (Disclaimer!) There are usually two considerations why companies (startups and enterprises alike!) set up a dedicated U.S. entity: international regulations and litigations, … Continue reading “Flipping” your Company to the US?
VCs are knowledge workers -- we convince our LPs that we know something worthwhile to justify our fees and carry we charge. There are two problems: The inherent intangibility of knowledge work; and the fact that liquidity events might take between five to nine years. You don't know if you were right until half a … Continue reading Stop Working.
Last Christmas break (wow - nine months ago!) I watched Laura Vanderkam's great 11-minute TED talk on "How to gain control of your free time". Rather than say "I don't have time to do x, y or z," she would say "I don't do x, y or z because it's not a priority." "I don't have time," often … Continue reading Priorities and Time Management.
The management-craze of "bring me solutions" has gone too far. I recently met with two spin-out teams of enterprises where the engineers and interim-CEO were scared to share any challenges or problems with corporate management because they were expected to be more "solutions-oriented." When I went back to one of the senior executives with a problem … Continue reading Bring me Problems.