“You have the patience of Job,” Tucker, a potential investor in my company, said to me. Tucker and I were strategizing on how to close our funding, and I was walking him through my strategy.
We had multiple problems to solve in order to close the funding. To start with, one of our existing investors, the infamous “Raul,” had blocked every term sheet we’d received.
The problem Tucker and I were trying to sold today was being caused by “Robbie.” …
“I want us to look big,” I said to Regis McKenna. Regis is a legendary Silicon Valley marketer who has worked with Apple (their first PC launch) and Intel (their first microprocessor launch. He was an advisor to one of my investors (Gill), and he had worked previously with my other investor (Raul).
Regis smiled and said, “You remind me of Steve Sanghi.” Sanghi is the founding CEO of Microchip, a multi-billion dollar semiconductor company.
I nodded my head and Regis continued with his analogy. “Sanghi said the same thing to me when Microchip was at your stage of growth.”
Regis paused, then he said, “It didn’t work for him and it will not work for you either. …
Every year, one of my VC investors would hold a “CEO Summit.” All the of the portfolio company CEOs would gather to network and listen to presentations from various people.
The final speaker on the final day was always Jack Dorsey of Square and Twitter fame. Dorsey would walk on stage, without any notes or slides, and he would start extemporaneously speaking.
To be honest, I always found Dorsey’s speeches boring and rambling. Maybe it was the lack of slides. I don’t know.
One year, in one of Dorsey’s rambling speeches that seemed to go nowhere, he said something that made me sit straight up and pay attention. …
“I’m managing three companies,” “Jason” said to me. It was our first conversation, and warning lights started going off.
“Tell me about the three companies?” I said.
Jason said, “The first company is a software company which is doing about $5 million in revenue. The second company is a SaaS company doing about $1 million in revenue. And the third company is my law practice.”
“Interesting,” I responded. “How many direct reports do you have across the three companies?”
Jason said, “Let me think about that.” Then after a very long pause, he said, “17.”
“Wow. That’s a lot.”
“Think of your multiple companies like one big company,” I said to Jason. “Each of the companies are then like divisions of the main company, run by you. …
“Everything hinges on us being able to find a great VP Engineering,” I said to Dave Epstein. Dave was a partner at the VC firm that was thinking of bringing me on as Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR).
EIRs are brought in by VC firms to start companies in an area the VC firm is interested in. The firm wanted to build an Analog Semiconductor company which happened to be my area of expertise.
Before I could officially join the firm, all the partners had to interview me. My interview with Dave was critical because Dave was the firm’s semiconductor expert.
It was the first time we had met, and Dave was trying to understand my thought process. …
I was fortunate to be involved with one of the most successful companies ever formed in the chip industry, Maxim Integrated Products. Maxim grew to over $2 billion/year in revenue, with net margins approaching 40%. It was a cash machine.
The company had 10, count ’em, 10, co-founders.
Of the 10 co-founders, there were 5 engineers in the group. There was Sam Ochi, Lee Evans, Dave Bingham, Roger Fuller, and Dave Fullagar.
Fullagar, the bearded fellow in the third row, was the only choice for VP Engineering/CTO. …
Of all the things I thought were important when I started my company, but weren’t, I’d put the board of directors meetings at the top of the list. You ask, “why do you feel this way?”
The answer is your board of directors meetings are a necessary evil.
I remember feeling very nervous before our first board of director’s meeting after we closed our funding. Dave, my advisor and coach, had suggested that I meet with each investor and board member 1:1 before each board meeting.
But I still worried and wondered what we would discuss in the board meetings. Would there be deep strategic discussions about the direction of the business? …
Successful companies usually have a way of doing things. We certainly did when I was at Maxim Integrated Products. Jack Gifford, our CEO, called it “The Maxim way.”
And our way was successful. The company grew to $2 billion/year in revenue with close to 40% net margins. It was literally a cash machine.
But, and this is a big but, as we grew, our thinking became more entrenched too.
For example, we had a product evaluation process at Maxim that we called RODT (Return on Design Time). The idea was that design engineers were the most precious resource in the company, so you should optimize your new product choices for the best RODT. …
A few years back, I was having coffee with my friend Alain. Somehow or other, we got on the subject of Elon Musk.
Alain said to me, “You know, I was the first VC to put money into Tesla, and I would have never put money in had I known how expensive it was to build an automobile company.”
I asked Alain what Musk was like. Alain said, “He can simultaneously channel Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.”
“Wow!” was all I could say in response.
Two of the best entrepreneurs ever, Gates and Jobs, and Musk could emulate both of them. …