So What’s Next? Part 1: My Search Criteria
July 31, 2011 Leave a comment
Now that the cat is out of the bag on my departure from TrueCar, lot’s of folks have been asking what’s next for me professionally. So I thought I would share my process and how I’m thinking about what I want to do next in a series of posts. I actually began this process several months ago, it’s been a challenging journey with emotional highs and lows but has also been rewarding having met some incredible people and re-connected with others.
Bottom line, there are a number of potential paths to take and criteria to examine – company size, role, geography, my risk appetite, work/life balance – and there are pros and cons to each of the many combinations. The good news for me? I’m not ready to make a decision and I’m in no hurry. And I’ve been blessed with a unique opportunity to have a professional transition at the exact time that my child is born and I plan on taking advantage of simply being a dad and staring at my son for a few months. I’m extremely thankful for that opportunity.
So how am I going about my search for the next big thing? There are really two high-level components to the process. First, being clear about my search criteria and second, executing a process for uncovering opportunities and ultimately choosing one. I’ll talk about the first component in this post – my ideal search criteria. Important to note that “ideal” implies a willingness to compromise and evaluate tradeoffs, which in turn requires that criteria are ranked in priority importance. Here are mine, in order:
- I’m not going to start my own company from scratch. So, I’m looking to partner with a Founder or Founding team.
- Chemistry with and complementary skills to the Founder(s) is an A-1 priority. Alignment on strategy, roles, values, culture, team building among others is important.
- I have a strict “No Asshole” rule. Meaning I won’t work for one, I won’t be one and I won’t participate in a culture that rewards being one. It’s toxic and threatens both morale and productivity.
- I’m looking for an early stage, venture-backed business post Series A. As opposed to a pure garage startup with limited traction and no funding.
- I want to build a company with balance – work / life / pursuits. I have enough experience to know that working 80-hour weeks just because your “supposed to” in a startup is bunk. A culture of work hard, smart and leaving some juice for personal pursuits is far more productive. I’m also not suggesting that clocking a 40-hour week is the right answer either. You work harder in a startup, period. But balance is possible.
- I’m considering four geographies. Boulder, Austin, Bay Area and Los Angeles.
- I don’t care about industry vertical, but…
- I want to focus on a huge industry with a large addressable market. Even better if the industry is fragmented with limited established brands. But it needs to be a big idea.
- I’m targeting CEO roles, but will consider COO roles. This is really a function of the experience/strengths of the Founder, back to chemistry.
- I want to build a company that solves a real problem and helps people in some meaningful way.