Image by patterbt via Flickr
In a another edition of the Trouble Maker series, let's focus on members of the Board of Directors.
Mr. Ants in His Pants
He joined at the last investment round three months and is now ready to exit the investment. Yes, yes, he came into the round professing his patience and commitment to the long term but that was 3 board meetings ago. Now, he wonders why we aren't leveraging the current moment. Why can't we test the market for the company now?
His condition is terminal so don't invest your time trying to get him to bide his time.
Ms. Young VC
She replaced the senior partner you did the deal with originally. Ms. Young VC works from the proverbial VC playbook and there will be no deviation from it regardless of circumstances. It is her first board directorship and everything is viewed through the prism of how this will make her look to her partners. Any setback or plot twist must be explained as an independent action on your part.
Her Ivy League education means she is solidly grounded in business metrics and accounting forensics. Her emotional intelligence well, not so much. Whatever you do, don't get her frightened as a scared Venture Capitalist is never a pretty sight.
Mr. Strategic Investor's Appointed Representative
He has no idea how to properly direct a company of any size, he's a financial controller at the Strategic Investor. He is accustomed to driving via the rear view mirror. Nor he is at all confident that decisions should be left to management. "Whoa, wait a minute" he'll say, "shouldn't the board look over that Xerox Copier lease prior to you signing it". You may argue that the good people (and lawyers) of the Xerox Corporation aren't actually looking for feedback or any input on their copier lease from a money-losing, under-capitalized start up. But you would be wasting your time.
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Mr. Older VC
He is a great guy but all the optimism has been crushed out of his being over the last 25 years. And while he is encouraged by recent progress, he foresees no need to become optimistic. In fact, he believes we should plan for the worst.
He assumes this will be a long slog with good news and bad news tending to even each other out. Yet, if and when it works out, he will be as happy as anyone if only a little more surprised.
Mr. Recent CEO Independent
Yes, he is "in the bag" for management and can be depended upon to decry low salaries and inadequate stock option grants at any opportunity in any meeting. Aside from the previous dispensation, he is usually one of the most valuable directors in the room. He will frequently offer practical, valuable insights into all company operations. What a concept.
Mr. Independent Director - Man about Town
Where does the money come from? How does he get in these deals? He's like the Dos Equis guy, "the most interesting man in the world" but he's younger. (I may have met the guy who the Dos Equis guy is modeled on in Venezuela 15 years ago, but that's for another blog). In the TV ads they say, “Women want him, men want to be him.” So, yes, he may not make it to every board meeting nor even say a single thing until the end of the meeting when he does -- but what else would you want from this guy? Insights on GAAP?
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