I haven’t written here about leaving Reactivity before — but think it’s getting to be public enough that it’s safe to write a few things now. I think it’s going to take me a bunch of time to really understand my time there, and suspect that writing will help me some.
Anyway, Thursday was my last board meeting. Brian Roddy now represents Common Stock on our board now, and I think that’s a great transition (he’s been saying lately that he feels like one of the last people left on Survivor.) We started having monthly board meetings when we closed our Series A in April 2000, and have had a few more frequently than that, so I figure that makes maybe 60 board meetings that I’ve participated in. It’s funny to think back to our first board meeting when we just didn’t know anything. Lots of mistakes. (first question: “where is the $23M that you raised?”. me: “um, in checking”. rest of board: “maybe you could fix that between now & the next meeting?”.)
In fact, thinking back to when we started Reactivity, it just seems like so long ago. 7 years ago now — I was 26 years old. I feel like I’ve grown up with and through Reactivity. When we started, I had never been to a board meeting. Never talked with a VC. Never raised money. Never sold anything to anyone. Thinking about the difference in perspective now is just amazing to me. I’ll miss it a ton. Even with all the ups & downs, challenges & mistakes, victories & losses. Like I say, I feel like I’ve grown up during my time here. Excited to do whatever I’ll do next, but also cognizant of the fact that I’ll never again start my first startup. Time moves on, I suppose.
One other board story: for our first board meeting, we didn’t much know what to do, so Brian, Bryan and I must have spent a week preparing for it. Maybe 30 or 40 Powerpoint slides highlighting the status of the business, what we were working on, etc. And so we started the meeting, with these people in the room that we were still pretty overwhelmed by. Mitch Kapor was our first investor, chairman of the company, and just a titan to us. Tom Byers was on the board, a well-known Stanford professor and accomplished entrepreneur in his own right. Peter Fenton was there, too, whose family has been influential in Silicon Valley for decades — and who is himself becoming a great VC. On maybe the first 3 slides, we were just going through the update, and Mitch says: “STOP READING THE SLIDES.” In a sophisticated way, we responded, “hunh?”. And Mitch said: “We can all read what you’ve written. Just talk to us.” Seems funny now that we were so intimidated by that back then, but we were. But I’ll tell you, those few words had just a huge impact on me. I never, ever read slides that I’m showing anymore — and, more significantly, I mostly now try to just have conversations with people instead of presenting. That was Mitch’s real message: nobody really likes being presented to, or spun to — they were there to help, and wanted us to treat them like that. Small point of view change that has had huge implications for me over the years since.
Anyway, Thursday was my last Reactivity board meeting. I’ll miss them. I learned a lot and grew up a lot and had a good time in that position.
More on Reactivity over the next few weeks & months.
(Oh, one other thing. I talk about Reactivity here like it was an individual thing. Starting it with Brian and Bryan, and then with Mike — that’s what made it all worth it. One thing that I don’t say enough, though, is that Kathy has been here and supportive and involved every minute, even when it was a little painful. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve that kind of support, but I’m awfully grateful that Kathy has shared this experience with me.)