More on Leadership
9 months ago
Payouts to founders at IPO
How much do startup founders make after an IPO? We looked at 2018's major tech IPOs. Paydays aren't what founders took home at the IPO (shares are normally locked up for 6 months), but what they were worth at the IPO price on the day the firm went public. It's not cash, but it's nice. Here's the data.
Several points are noteworthy.
Huge payoffs. Median and average pay were $399m and $918m. Average and median homeownership were 9% and 12%.
Coinbase, Uber, UI Path. Uber, Zoom, Spotify, UI Path, and Coinbase founders raised billions. Zoom's founder owned 19% and Spotify's 28% and 13%. Brian Armstrong controlled 20% of Coinbase at IPO and was worth $15bn. Preserving as much equity as possible by staying cash-efficient or raising at high valuations also helps.
The smallest was Ping. Ping's compensation was the smallest. Andre Duand owned 2% but was worth $20m at IPO. That's less than some billion-dollar paydays, but still good.
IPOs can be lucrative, as you can see. Preserving equity could be the difference between a $20mm and $15bln payday (Coinbase).
Jano le Roux
6 months ago
The Real Reason Adobe Just Paid $20 billion for Figma
Sketch or Figma?
Designers are pissed.
The beast ate the beauty.
Figma deserves $20B.
Do designers deserve Adobe?
Adobe devours new creative tools and spits them out with a slimy Adobe aftertaste.
Frame.io — $1.3B
Magento — $1.7B
Macromedia — $3.6B
Nothing compares to the risky $20B acquisition.
If they can't be beaten, buy them.
And then make them boring.
Like that friend who dabbles in everything creatively, there's not enough time to master one thing.
Figma was Adobe's thigh-mounted battle axe.
a UX design instrument with a sizable free tier.
a UX design tool with a simple and quick user interface.
a tool for fluid collaboration in user experience design.
a web-based UX design tool that functions well.
a UX design tool with a singular goal of perfection.
UX design software that replaced Adobe XD.
Adobe XD could do many of Figma's things, but it didn't focus on the details. This is a major issue when working with detail-oriented professionals.
Design enthusiasts first used Figma. More professionals used it. Institutions taught it. Finally, major brands adopted Figma.
Adobe hated that.
Adobe dispatched a team of lawyers to resolve the Figma issue, as big companies do. Figma didn’t bite for months.
Figma helped designers leave Adobe. Figma couldn't replace Photoshop, but most designers used it to remove backgrounds.
Online background removal tools improved.
The Figma problem grew into a thorn, a knife, and a battle ax in Adobe's soft inner thigh.
Figma appeared to be going public. Adobe couldn’t allow that. It bought Figma for $20B during the IPO drought.
Adobe has a new issue—investors are upset.
The actual cause of investors' ire toward Adobe
Spoiler: The math just doesn’t add up.
According to Adobe's press release, Figma's annual recurring revenue (ARR) is $400M and growing rapidly.
The $20B valuation requires a 50X revenue multiple, which is unheard of.
Venture capitalists typically use:
10% to 29% growth per year: ARR multiplied by 1 to 5
30% to 99% growth per year: ARR multiplied by 6 to 10
100% to 400% growth per year: ARR multiplied by 10 to 20
Showing an investor a 50x multiple is like telling friends you saw a UFO. They'll think you're crazy.
Adobe's stock fell immediately after the acquisition because it didn't make sense to a number-cruncher.
Designers started a Tweet storm in the digital town hall where VCs and designers often meet.
Adobe acquired Workfront for $1.5 billion at the end of 2020. This purchase made sense for investors.
Many investors missed the fact that Adobe is acquiring Figma not only for its ARR but also for its brilliant collaboration tech.
Adobe could use Figmas web app technology to make more products web-based to compete with Canva.
Figma's high-profile clients could switch to Adobe's enterprise software.
However, questions arise:
Will Adobe make Figma boring?
Will Adobe tone down Figma to boost XD?
Would you ditch Adobe and Figma for Sketch?
9 months ago
Yahoo could have purchased Google for $1 billion
Let's see this once-dominant IT corporation crumble.
What's the capital of Kazakhstan? If you don't know the answer, you can probably find it by Googling. Google Search returned results for Nur-Sultan in 0.66 seconds.
Google is the best search engine I've ever used. Did you know another search engine ruled the Internet? I'm sure you guessed Yahoo!
Google's friendly UI and wide selection of services make it my top choice. Let's explore Yahoo's decline.
YAHOO stands for Yet Another Hierarchically Organized Oracle. Jerry Yang and David Filo established Yahoo.
Yahoo is primarily a search engine and email provider. It offers News and an advertising platform. It was a popular website in 1995 that let people search the Internet directly. Yahoo began offering free email in 1997 by acquiring RocketMail.
According to a study, Yahoo used Google Search Engine technology until 2000 and then developed its own in 2004.
Yahoo! rejected buying Google for $1 billion
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google's founders, approached Yahoo in 1998 to sell Google for $1 billion so they could focus on their studies. Yahoo denied the offer, thinking it was overvalued at the time.
Yahoo realized its error and offered Google $3 billion in 2002, but Google demanded $5 billion since it was more valuable. Yahoo thought $5 billion was overpriced for the existing market.
In 2022, Google is worth $1.56 Trillion.
What happened to Yahoo!
Yahoo refused to buy Google, and Google's valuation rose, making a purchase unfeasible.
Yahoo started losing users when Google launched Gmail. Google's UI was far cleaner than Yahoo's.
Yahoo offered $1 billion to buy Facebook in July 2006, but Zuckerberg and the board sought $1.1 billion. Yahoo rejected, and Facebook's valuation rose, making it difficult to buy.
Yahoo was losing users daily while Google and Facebook gained many. Google and Facebook's popularity soared. Yahoo lost value daily.
Microsoft offered $45 billion to buy Yahoo in February 2008, but Yahoo declined. Microsoft increased its bid to $47 billion after Yahoo said it was too low, but Yahoo rejected it. Then Microsoft rejected Yahoo’s 10% bid increase in May 2008.
In 2015, Verizon bought Yahoo for $4.5 billion, and Apollo Global Management bought 90% of Yahoo's shares for $5 billion in May 2021. Verizon kept 10%.
Yahoo's opportunity to acquire Google and Facebook could have been a turning moment. It declined Microsoft's $45 billion deal in 2008 and was sold to Verizon for $4.5 billion in 2015. Poor decisions and lack of vision caused its downfall. Yahoo's aim wasn't obvious and it didn't stick to a single domain.
Hence, a corporation needs a clear vision and a leader who can see its future.
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9 months ago
Trends in SaaS Funding from 2016 to 2022
Christopher Janz of Point Nine Capital created the SaaS napkin in 2016. This post shows how founders have raised cash in the last 6 years. View raw data.
Unsurprisingly, round sizes have expanded and will taper down in 2022. In 2016, pre-seed rounds were $200k to $500k; currently, they're $1-$2m. Despite the macroeconomic scenario, Series A have expanded from $3m to $12m in 2016 to $6m and $18m in 2022.
There are hints that valuations are rebounding this year. Pre-seed valuations in 2022 are $12m from $3m in 2016, and Series B prices are $270m from $100m in 2016.
Compared to public SaaS multiples, Series B valuations more closely reflect the market, but Seed and Series A prices seem to be inflated regardless of the market.
I'd like to know how each annual cohort performed for investors, based on the year they invested and the valuations. I can't access this information.
Seed firms' ARR forecasts have risen from $0 to $0.6m to $0 to $1m. 2016 expected $1.2m to $3m, 2021 $0.5m to $4m, and this year $0.5m to $2.5m, suggesting that Series A firms may raise with less ARR today. Series B minutes fell from $4.2m to $3m.
2022 is the year that VCs start discussing capital efficiency in portfolio meetings. Given the economic shift in the markets and the stealthy VC meltdown, it's not surprising. Christopher Janz added capital efficiency to the SaaS Napkin as a new statistic for Series A (3.5x) and Series B. (2.5x). Your investors must live under a rock if they haven't asked about capital efficiency. If you're unsure:
The Capital Efficiency Ratio is the ratio of how much a company has spent growing revenue and how much they’re receiving in return. It is the broadest measure of company effectiveness in generating ARR
No one knows what's next, including me. All startup and growing enterprises around me are tightening their belts and extending their runways in anticipation of a difficult fundraising ride. If you're wanting to raise money but can wait, wait till the market is more stable and access to money is easier.
Maria Urkedal York
7 months ago
When at work, don't give up; instead, think like a designer.
How to reframe irritation and go forward
“… before you can figure out where you are going, you need to know where you are, and once you know and accept where you are, you can design your way to where you want to be.” — Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
“You’ve been here before. But there are some new ingredients this time. What can tell yourself that will make you understand that now isn’t just like last year? That there’s something new in this August.”
My coach paused. I sighed, inhaled deeply, and considered her question.
What could I say? I simply needed a plan from her so everything would fall into place and I could be the happy, successful person I want to be.
Time passed. My mind was exhausted from running all morning, all summer, or the last five years, searching for what to do next and how to get there.
Calmer, I remembered that my coach's inquiry had benefited me throughout the summer. The month before our call, I read Designing Your Work Life — How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work from Standford University’s Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.
A passage in their book felt like a lifeline: “We have something important to say to you: Wherever you are in your work life, whatever job you are doing, it’s good enough. For now. Not forever. For now.”
As I remembered this book on the coaching call, I wondered if I could embrace where I am in August and say my job life is good enough for now. Only temporarily.
I've done that since. I'm getting unstuck.
Here's how you can take the first step in any area where you feel stuck.
How to acquire the perspective of "Good enough for now" for yourself
We’ve all heard the advice to just make the best of a bad situation. That´s not bad advice, but if you only make the best of a bad situation, you are still in a bad situation. It doesn’t get to the root of the problem or offer an opportunity to change the situation. You’re more cheerfully navigating lousiness, which is an improvement, but not much of one and rather hard to sustain over time.” — Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
Reframing Burnett at Evans says good enough for now is the key to being happier at work. Because, as they write, a designer always has options.
Choosing to believe things are good enough for now is liberating. It helps us feel less victimized and less judged. Accepting our situation helps us become unstuck.
Let's break down the process, which designers call constructing your way ahead, into steps you can take today.
Writing helps get started. First, write down your challenge and why it's essential to you. If pen and paper help, try this strategy:
Make the decision to accept the circumstance as it is. Designers always begin by acknowledging the truth of the situation. You now refrain from passing judgment. Instead, you simply describe the situation as accurately as you can. This frees us from negative thought patterns that prevent us from seeing the big picture and instead keep us in a tunnel of negativity.
Look for a reframing right now. Begin with good enough for the moment. Take note of how your body feels as a result. Tell yourself repeatedly that whatever is occurring is sufficient for the time being. Not always, but just now. If you want to, you can even put it in writing and repeatedly breathe it in, almost like a mantra.
You can select a reframe that is more relevant to your situation once you've decided that you're good enough for now and have allowed yourself to believe it. Try to find another perspective that is possible, for instance, if you feel unappreciated at work and your perspective of I need to use and be recognized for all my new skills in my job is making you sad and making you want to resign. For instance, I can learn from others at work and occasionally put my new abilities to use.
After that, leave your mind and act in accordance with your new perspective. Utilize the designer's bias for action to test something out and create a prototype that you can learn from. Your beginning point for creating experiences that will support the new viewpoint derived from the aforementioned point is the new perspective itself. By doing this, you recognize a circumstance at work where you can provide value to yourself or your workplace and then take appropriate action. Send two or three coworkers from whom you wish to learn anything an email, for instance, asking them to get together for coffee or a talk.
Choose tiny, doable actions. You prioritize them at work.
Let's assume you're feeling disconnected at work, so you make a list of folks you may visit each morning or invite to lunch. If you're feeling unmotivated and tired, take a daily walk and treat yourself to a decent coffee.
This may be plenty for now. If you want to take this procedure further, use Burnett and Evans' internet tools and frameworks.
Developing the daily practice of reframing
“We’re not discontented kids in the backseat of the family minivan, but how many of us live our lives, especially our work lives, as if we are?” — Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
I choose the good enough for me perspective every day, often. No quick fix. Am a failing? Maybe a little bit, but I like to think of it more as building muscle.
This way, every time I tell myself it's ok, I hear you. For now, that muscle gets stronger.
Hopefully, reframing will become so natural for us that it will become a habit, and not a technique anymore.
If you feel like you’re stuck in your career or at work, the reframe of Good enough, for now, might be valuable, so just go ahead and try it out right now.
And while you’re playing with this, why not think of other areas of your life too, like your relationships, where you live — even your writing, and see if you can feel a shift?
8 months ago
After working at seven startups, here are the early-stage characteristics that contributed to profitability, unicorn status or successful acquisition.
I've worked in a People role at seven early-stage firms for over 15 years (I enjoy chasing a dream!). Few of the seven achieved profitability, including unicorn status or acquisition.
Did early-stage startups share anything? Was there a difference between winners and losers? YES.
I support founders and entrepreneurs building financially sustainable enterprises with a compelling cause. This isn't something everyone would do. A company's success demands more than guts. Founders drive startup success.
Six Qualities of Successful Startups
Successful startup founders either innately grasped the correlation between strong team engagement and a well-executed business model, or they knew how to ask and listen to others (executive coaches, other company leaders, the team itself) to learn about it.
1. Co-founders agreed and got along personally.
Multi-founder startups are common. When co-founders agree on strategic decisions and are buddies, there's less friction and politics at work.
As a co-founder, ask your team if you're aligned. They'll explain.
I've seen C-level leaders harbor personal resentments over disagreements. A co-departure founder's caused volatile leadership and work disruptions that the team struggled to manage during and after.
2. Team stayed.
Successful startups have low turnover. Nobody is leaving. There may be a termination for performance, but other team members will have observed the issues and agreed with the decision.
You don't want organizational turnover of 30%+, with leaders citing performance issues but the team not believing them. This breeds suspicion.
Something is wrong if many employees leave voluntarily or involuntarily. You may hear about lack of empowerment, support, or toxic leadership in exit interviews and from the existing team. Intellectual capital loss and resource instability harm success.
3. Team momentum.
A successful startup's team is excited about its progress. Consistently achieving goals and having trackable performance metrics. Some describe this period of productivity as magical, with great talents joining the team and the right people in the right places. Increasing momentum.
I've also seen short-sighted decisions where only some departments, like sales and engineering, had goals. Lack of a unified goals system created silos and miscommunication. Some employees felt apathetic because they didn't know how they contributed to team goals.
4. Employees advanced in their careers.
Even if you haven't created career pathing or professional development programs, early-stage employees will grow and move into next-level roles. If you hire more experienced talent and leaders, expect them to mentor existing team members. Growing companies need good performers.
New talent shouldn't replace and discard existing talent. This creates animosity and makes existing employees feel unappreciated for their early contributions to the company.
5. The company lived its values.
Culture and identity are built on lived values. A company's values affect hiring, performance management, rewards, and other processes. Identify, practice, and believe in company values. Starting with team values instead of management or consultants helps achieve this. When a company's words and actions match, it builds trust.
When company values are beautifully displayed on a wall but few employees understand them, the opposite is true. If an employee can't name the company values, they're useless.
6. Communication was clear.
When necessary information is shared with the team, they feel included, trusted, and like owners. Transparency means employees have the needed information to do their jobs. Disclosure builds trust. The founders answer employees' questions honestly.
Information accessibility decreases office politics. Without transparency, even basic information is guarded and many decisions are made in secret. I've seen founders who don't share financial, board meeting, or compensation and equity information. The founders' lack of trust in the team wasn't surprising, so it was reciprocated.
Finally. All six of the above traits (leadership alignment, minimal turnover, momentum, professional advancement, values, and transparency) were high in the profitable startups I've worked at, including unicorn status or acquisition.
I've seen these as the most common and constant signals of startup success or failure.
These characteristics are the product of founders' choices. These decisions lead to increased team engagement and business execution.
Here's something to consider for startup employees and want-to-bes. 90% of startups fail, despite the allure of building something new and gaining ownership. With the emotional and time investment in startup formation, look for startups with these traits to reduce your risk.
Both you and the startup will thrive in these workplaces.