It has been a while since I posted to this blog. I have spent the last 3 months out in Asia. I did a little work but it was definitely mostly pleasure. Great to get away from things and have time to think, reflect and clear the mind. So I have been back in New York for about 2 weeks and recently had lunch with a friend who is a CEO of a publicly traded Internet company. He asked me during that lunch that now having sold and no longer being a part of Community Connect if I had reflected on what I would have done differently. It is a funny question because I have thought about it but mostly by recounting specific incidences or situations and not pulling it all together to give an overall assessment. I ended giving an answer but I think it was a lot of rambling and if I could take a mulligan, this is what I would ultimately say would be the 1 biggest thing I would have changed:
I was Too Deep in the Weeds and not Strategic Enough.
To say the very least, I was a very hands on CEO. I know this was a flaw of mine. I often deep dived into certain business operations and initiatives. For a company of about 100 people, I think it is inevitable that you do that once in a while to make sure that the “factory” is running efficiently but I was in it too much. Trends and dynamics in this industry change so quickly and you need to be on top of it. I should have been better aware of our competitors, technology trends, VC dynamics, potential suitor situations and shifts in the consumer market. I didn’t have my head in the sand but I didn’t spend nearly enough time understanding how the dynamics that affect our business was changing. Someone once told me that “Timing is Everything” and I realize that it’s not about being lucky. Instead it is about grasping market dynamics and being able to “time” the best way to react to those changes especially when they hit that watershed moment. For Community Connect, I saw the wave of Social Networking 2.0 sites (Friendster, MySpace, Facebook) but didn’t fully grasp how much of a tsunami it was going to be. The change that happened in the industry was incredible from consumer behavior, advertising demand, traditional media needs and venture capital funding. Our path is that we should have either made a bigger move earlier or we should have been bought when we were in more of a leadership position. We took too much of a middle of the road path and that was not the way to react to such a huge shift. Some people say to me “how can anyone have anticipated that type of transformation?”. I should have been able to anticipate it. We were leaders in the market with the most experience in building a successful online community business. I should have completely predicted how quickly social media was going to take off. Timing is everything. These monumental shifts happen. You just need to be prepared to take advantage of it. I won’t make that same mistake…..trust me. 🙂