After 10+ years on the BOD @ Recorded Future I’m thrilled to be handing off my BOD seat to Niloofar Howe. Niloofar is truly an amazing leader in cyber security and a fantastic addition to the Recorded Future BOD. Link here to a great Q&A between Christopher, Niloofar & Theresa Shea.
I am grateful to everyone on the team @ Recorded Future for including me on their amazing journey building the world’s leading solution for cyber threat intelligence. Special shout out to Christopher Ahlberg, Staffan Truvé, Erik Wistrand, Jason Hines, Theresa Shea, Matt Kodama, Scott Almedia, Rich Miner & Bernard Liautaud – thanks for your partnership over the past 10+ years.
As everyone at Recorded Future knows – I’m always an email and/or a couple of T stops away.
I get lots of questions about compensation for BOD members @ startups. I can’t say it much better than Brad Feld in this post. A few additional thoughts:
Your BOD works for the company. First time entrepreneurs are sometimes at risk of thinking of the BOD as their boss – imho the best early stage BODs do not function that way. The best BOD members are responsible for holding the CEO/Founders accountable for performance and for representing the interests of all stakeholders. The BOD members individually or collectively can’t match the detail, pace, intensity and intimacy required to drive effective decisionmaking in early-stage companies. The BOD should be a valuable and objective feedback mechanism for the founders & leadership – and they should absolutely do whatever they can to help – but thinking that they can/should be driving decisionmaking or strategy is a slippery slope. In my experience – the most functional and effective early stage BOD members start every interaction with founders/leadership with the simple question “How can I help?”
Beginning, Middle and End. As Brad points out in his post – it’s always best to make clear that every BOD seat should have clear expectations and milestones to consider change of compensation & role. BOD membership – like all “tours of duty” should have a beginning, middle & end anticipated at inception of the first BOD gig. If you decide to extend a BOD member to a 2nd or 3rd tour of duty on your BOD – that’s great – but having a preset milestone to check in and evaluate how it’s working and to enable 360 feedback for the BOD member helps ensure that you don’t have BOD members who are just filling a seat. I think that 2 years should be the max timescale for the first check-in and annual is much better. It’s a little different for BOD members appointed by investors – but also healthy to have similar check-ins for investor appointed BOD members who sometimes never get objective 360 feedback.
I was truly moved by this article in Wired last week. As anyone who knows me well will tell you – I think of start-ups as a team sport and my most important teammate is, and will always be, my wife Amy.
From day one Amy encouraged my irrational entrepreneurial interests. When I graduated from Tuck, we had a 1 year old daughter, a pile of debt and a pullout couch that we’d been sleeping on. Amy encouraged me to pursue my passion for software startups instead of chasing a method of paying off B-School loans. She insisted I go to work for a small AI startup in Austin TX – Trilogy – making half of the comp I might have made as a banker. I had studied AI as an undergrad at Bowdoin and even though AI was out of favor in the early 1990’s I couldn’t imagine doing anything cooler. She didn’t understand what AI was, but off we moved to Texas, away from everyone we knew but towards some of the best BBQ in the world.
Through innumerable sacrifices, dozens of failures and a few precious wins, Amy has been incredible as a partner in life and in work. Everything we have accomplished together is ours and most of the credit goes to her. While raising our four children and quietly building her own art career (check out her latest series @ pigratdog.com), she has provided the rock-solid foundation that has allowed me to start companies and play with computers for the past 25 years. Like most great partnerships, I can always count on her to check me with the hard question at just the right time.
Amy – thanks for being the best partner a rugby playing software nerd could ever expect. I owe my successes to you – and you can have all the cash – oh wait – as you taught me – none of it really belongs to us in the first place 😉
If you are running an early stage company or if you are an employee at an early stage company or a seed fund – I strongly recommend that you have your CFO/Admin folks adopt Carta for equity and/or fund management.
I wrote a blog post about why Carta is so important a few years ago – link is here. Carta was previously called eShares.
I use Carta myself @ Tamr, more than half of the companies @ Koa have adopted Carta for equity management and I use Carta for the management of the Koa Seed Fund. All of the companies that adopt Carta have the same reaction as I did – “I can’t imagine what we did before Carta.” It really is a no-brainer.
If you don’t believe me – then listen to Fred Wilson @ UnionSquare Ventures also uses Carta and feels the same way that I do – “no brainer” – his post is here.
Hope that you give it a try – totally worth it and I bet you’ll find you can’t imagine what you did before Carta – I know I can’t.
Last week I received this email from my friend Rana El Kaliouby – the Co-Founder/CEO at Affectiva :
I just hosted a dinner for female founders, CEOs and investors, which was awesome!
Half way through our conversation, we noticed that many of us had at least one thing in common: YOU!
You have supported, championed, invested in, advised, and connected many of us.
The world needs many more men like you.
Thank you. See pic of your mentees and fans attached 🙂
When Amy and I started Koa – we were committed to investing in female founders – we are so honored to have the opportunity to work with so many great women.
Over the past 30 years, I’ve had a chance to work with some amazing entrepreneurs – many of whom have become great friends. One of the best I’ve ever known (entrepreneur and friend) is Christopher Ahlberg. Christopher’s 50th birthday today is a great opportunity for me to thank him for his partnership, friendship and most of all his sense of humor. Not only is Christopher incredibly smart, fiercely competitive, deliberately balanced, a loyal patriot as well as a great husband and father – but in his heart, Christopher is one of the best human beings I’ve ever known. He’s also an exceptionally private person which is why it gives me great pleasure to recognize his 50th birthday in such a public venue 😉 Happy birthday old man – looking forward to many more.
Spend visibility is a foundational need for procurement organizations, but many enterprises struggle to gain this visibility and keep it up-to-date. The notoriously messy nature of spend data and inability of legacy, rules-based technologies to keep up with the pace of business has made solving this problem a thorn in the side of many Chief Procurement Officers.
Societe Generale, a leading European financial services institution, recognized the need to take a fresh approach to solving this problem in late 2017 when they selected Tamr as a digital transformation partner and as their solution provider for spend analytics. Check out the video case study below.
The bank’s Group Sourcing Division manages the “source-to-contract” process for 250 buyers in 22 countries who collectively engage more than 100,000 suppliers and oversee €6.5 billion of spend. This complexity has made legacy solutions a non-starter. Previous attempts to apply a rules-based system were able to integrate just 15 of 100+ ERP systems and provided only 40% spend visibility.
In this 3-minute video, Jean-Baptiste Anne (Societe Generale’s Head of Sourcing Methods & Information Systems), describes why the Division chose Tamr and some of their successes so far, such as deploying Tamr’s Spend Analytics Solution in under 2 months and being able to reduce manual support effort by over 70%.
The success of the deployment has given the Division a foundation of trusted, up-to-date data that is being used to fuel the next steps in their digital transformation. As Jean-Baptiste describes in the video, Tamr’s unique approach to data integration has allowed Societe Generale to “rapidly scale our analytic operations, reduce costs, and simplify our IT environment.”