Realizing when to pass the baton

And, creating an environment of 350 entrepreneurs

Lessons learned from entrepreneur by Bambi Francisco Roizen
September 15, 2008
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There are few startup CEOs who remain at the helm of their companies for very long. Amazon's Jeff Bezos is one very special guy for sticking around for the last decade, and founders don't often return to lead the companies they birthed, like Yahoo's Jerry Yang did.

For the most part, startup CEOs serve for a short period of time before new management comes in. Technorati, a leading blog search engine and ad network, is no different. David Sifry, the founder and blog evangelist handed the reigns over to Richard Jalichandra last year.

“It’s true in startups in general that you have different talent sets for different stages of the company. In Technorati’s case, the skillsets that got the company off the ground and evangelized the blogosphere in general, not just Technorati, was different than actually turning it into a big media business," said Richard, in this Lessons learned interview. “If there was a lesson to be learned with Technorati, it’s [asking yourself] what are the right skill sets for the company at various stages. And, I think we’re making that transition."

Richard, who worked at IGN when it was sold to News Corp, also shares advice on creating a corporate culture that excites and motivates employees. 

"Some of what we did at IGN by creating that sense of entrepreneurship really stems out of a management philosophy that I happen to share with Mark Jung [founder and CEO of IGN when sold to News Corp]," said Richard. "It’s just the way I like to be managed. I manage the way I like to be managed. That’s Let me do what I do and get out of the way. Be an advisor to me, don’t tell me how to do it. That’s incredibly important at a startup... If you don’t let people have the freedom to be the best that they can be, you’re not going to succeed as a startup." Amen!

Once again, the notion that teams are more important than business models came up in this interview. 

“Every successful exit in their portfolio had at least three business model changes," said Richard, referring to a conversation he once had with a venture captialist. "But because the people were so smart, they figured out what the right model was.”


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(Note: This story was corrected to change Jeff Yang to Jerry Yang)

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