I never thought I could be a founder. I thought founders were a rarified group of incredibly smart, crazy and driven folks that were on a different plane than I was. I thought I would be a startup executive and a “right hand man” and indeed I enjoyed that and was good at it. I knew where I stood in this role, I over-delivered, CEOs loved me, and life was pretty good.
Then … I joined a startup that was failing. Hard, and fast. I didn’t know it until my first week there. The VCs and others had told me … well … a different story.
I tried to fix it. I helped them raise $30m in VC money immediately. This helped, but the burn was still ferocious. I drove strategic decisions to dump projects that lost too much money. I got on jets to go to Japan to try to save a few big customers.
This bought time, but nothing really worked. I couldn’t fix it. It wasn’t my company, but I tried to fix it as if it were.
Then I had one last idea. Buy a little of their technology and start our own company. It was born less out of a desire to be a founder, than to not fail. I could not accept failure. Period. I was willing to do anything, whatever it took, not to fail.
So we bought that technology, started our own company and sold it for $50,000,000 12.5 months later.