March 31, 2011

Should You Have a Board?

Should You Have a Board? As I mentioned last week, Fred’s post from a few months ago about an M&A Case study involving WhatCounts had a couple of provocative thoughts in it from CEO David Geller.  The second one I wanted to address is whether or not you should have take on institutional investors and have a Board.  As David said in the post: Fewer outsiders dictating (or strongly suggesting) direction means that you will be able to pursue your goals more closely and with less friction Although I have a lot of respect for David, I disagree with the notion that outsiders around the Board table is inherently bad for a business, or at least that the friction from insights or suggestions provided by those outsiders is problematic. While that certainly CAN be the case, it can also be the case that outside views and suggestions and healthy debate, as long as incentives are aligned, people are smart, and founders manage the discussion well, can be enormously productive for a business.  I recognize that I’ve been very lucky that the Board members we’ve had at Return Path over the years have not been dogmatic or combative or dumb, but […]


November 9, 2010

Why I Love My Board

Why I Love My Board, Part II I’ve written a few things about my Board of Directors over the years, some of which I note below.  Part I of this series isn’t particularly useful, though there’s an entertaining link in it to a video of Fred that’s worth looking at if you know or follow him. Today, we are happy to announce that we are adding a new independent director, Scott Petry, the founder of Postini and now a senior email product leader at Google (read the official press release [here]).  Scott’s a fantastic addition to our already strong Board, […]


August 26, 2010

Style, or Substance?

Style, or Substance? I had an interesting conversation the other day with a friend who sits on a couple of Boards, as do I (besides Return Path’s).  We ended up in a conversation about some challenges one of his Boards is having with their CEO, and the question to some extent boiled down to this:  a Board is responsible for hiring/firing the CEO and for being the guardians of shareholder value, but what does a Board do when it doesn’t like the CEO’s style? There are lots of different kinds of CEOs and corporate cultures.  Some are command-and-control, others are […]


July 25, 2004

The Good, The Board, and The Ugly

Fred, Brad, and Jerry have done a bunch of postings recently, and threaten to do more, sharing the VC perspective on many aspects of startups and entrepreneurship. I thought it might be interesting to share the entrepreneur’s perspective on the same subjects. I’ll try to cross-post and keep pace, but I’m already a couple behind, and I can’t crank out postings as fast as these guys can! (For reference, Fred and Brad are on my board, and Jerry as Fred’s partner is an advisor to my company, Return Path.) Topic 1: Boards of Directors. All three have many good points. […]


May 14, 2004

Who’s The Boss?

That’s not just the title of a mediocre 1980’s sitcom starring Tony Danza, it’s a question I get periodically, including last week in an interview. A writer I know is working on an article on entrepreneurship and asked me, “Before you started your own business, how did you like working for other people?” The question made me think a little bit. I know what she was asking — how I liked being the boss instead of working for one — but the way she phrased it is interesting and revealing about what it’s like to be a CEO. One of […]