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Dharmesh Shah

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A Few Funny Characters You'll Find In Silicon Valley

Posted by Dharmesh Shah on December 15, 2014 2 Comments

The following is a guest post by Nathan Beckord.  Nathan is co-founder and CEO of Foundersuite, a San Francisco-based company developing the ultimate collection of software tools and templates for entrepreneurs.  

I’ve worked in Silicon Valley for quite awhile now, and a lot has changed—SaaS and social have supplanted silicon as the medium of choice for starting new companies; San Francisco has usurped Palo Alto as the center of the startup universe; and the 280, long a delightful drive to Sand Hill Road, is now almost as traffic clogged as the 101.multiple-characters

But one thing that has stayed relatively constant is the people. Here’s a quick review of a few of the entrepreneurial archetypes you’ll meet in Silicon Valley.

1. The Socially Awkward Technical Genius Founder CEO

As recently as a decade ago, the Technical Genius toiled quietly in the background behind a “business guy,” but now they are front and center as CEO. Silicon Valley was literally built by this cohort; without them, it wouldn’t exist. However, if you’re not working in their specific industry or niche, it can be painful to chat with them, and you end up making small talk and asking awkward questions like, “how does it feel to grow so fast,” and getting single-word answers. Younger members of this cohort tend to be accepted into YCombinator at an exceedingly high rate.

2. The Happy Hipster Worker Bee

Supporting every Technical Genius CEO is a small army of Worker Bees. Worker Bees rarely become founders, and they’re okay with that. They are paid well, and if they land at the right startup early enough, they typically gain enough vested stock to be able to swing a SOMA condo or a Sunset flat (but rarely a Mission Victorian or Marina split level). They find great joy in the free lunches and gourmet snack bars offered by their IPO-track or just-IPO’d company; indeed, they’ve never worked at a company that didn’thave these perks. When not at work, they can be found in line for a burrito at Senor Sessig’s, an ice cream at BiRite, or hanging out in Dolores Park with a Coolest Cooler full of Pliny the Elder. They have more (and more interesting) facial hair than any of the other cohorts.

3. The Social Climber

Social Climbers usually work in BD, Corp Dev or “Strategy” at a well-funded company, and have a predilection for button-down shirts, dark blue expensive jeans, and North Face vests. They frequently jump from one hot startup to the next; at present you might find them at Uber, but only a year ago they were at Square or Dropbox. You’ll meet them at high-profile startup events like Disrupt or Launch, but they’re difficult to have a meaningful conversation with, as they’re constantly scanning the room to see whom else they should be talking to. Social Climbers often end up in VC, but they rarely make partner.

4. The Legacy VC

Legacy VCs work at firms that are on their 10th fund—funds that have become rather bloated and risk-averse. As recently as a decade ago, this group was at the top of the food chain—they had power, man! But their funds made too many clean tech bets in 2004 and totally missed the social / local / mobile wave. Now they have to fight hard to even get into second-tier big data, IoT, and wearables deals with their remaining dry powder. Simultaneously, this cohort is being disrupted by the likes of AngelList, syndicates, and crowdfunding, as well as by the Young Turks.

5. The Young Turk VC

The Young Turks are on their first or second fund, which they started shortly after leaving Google in the mid- to late-2000’s. They differentiate by being more “entrepreneur-friendly” which means being reachable and responsive, offering solid feedback, and by actually saying “no” when it’s not a fit (vs. retaining optionality). This attitude is extraordinarily refreshing for entrepreneurs courting them, but it is often short-lived, as it leads to a deluge of needy founders emailing, Twitter-stalking, and following them into restrooms at tech conferences; they simply can’t keep up. Thus, the entrepreneur-friendly attitude tends to last until their second or third fund, at which time the Young Turks start to resemble the Legacy VCs (and the cycle repeats itself).       

6. The New Angel

New Angels are a supercharged variation of the Worker Bee; they are folks who were among the first 50 or so hires at a moonshot company that recently went public—think Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn—and they are now bravely wading into the world of angel investing. For several brilliant months—typically from the time they start investing until they experience their first total write-off—the New Angel is a founder’s best friend, as she is hungry for deal flow, not yet jaded, and willing to open her check book when others won’t. Catch her while you can.  

7. The Socialite

The Socialite is often a co-founder of a company, but spends a huge amount of his or her time putting on events, happy hours, pub crawls, and meet-ups. They’re always pushing you to attend a new event or to spam your network with their latest shin-dig. In their mind, this work is “marketing” or “community development”; back in college, they threw incredible keggers, calling them “networking opportunities.” They have 3k+ connections on LinkedIn, but few actually know them. Notably, Eventbrite derives approximately 74% of its total revenue from this cohort.

8. The Professional Event-Goer

Symbiotic to the Socialite is the Professional Event-Goer. This person is ubiquitous—you see them at Every. Single. Event. They get in for free by promising to promote it to their “network” which usually means a quick tweet or a plug in their spam-filtered newsletter. They always sit in the front row so they can rush the speakers afterward. They wear a rotating set of startup t-shirts and their laptop is covered in startup stickers (some of which have already gone bust). How they pay their rent in absurdistan San Francisco remains a mystery.

9. The Charity Case

The Charity Case is a startup founder, but they really shouldn’t be. They have no money, little to no technical chops to build a product, and quite frankly, their idea is highly derivative and just not that good. They’re constantly hitting you up for introductions to the mythical “technical co-founder” that would make their dreams a reality, and they start a lot of sentences with, “if only I had…” They go to numerous events but never pay; instead, they earn their place by checking people in at the door. 

10. The Old-Schooler

The Old-Schooler originally came from the East Coast or sometimes Chicago or London, and even though they’ve been here for a decade, they never adopt Silicon Valley ways. They don’t own a hoodie and occasionally they even wear a suit. They use their phone primarily to talk, not text. They write formal business plans, eschew AngelList, and raise money by pitching ex-banker friends from Goldman. They might not be on a Mac Book Pro, but they definitely “think different” and are immune to the Silicon Valley echo chamber. Though seemingly a relic, they’re often extraordinarily successful, precisely because they’re outliers and not chasing the herd.

Each of the above was based on one or more real Silicon Valley heroes that I personally know and love—collectively, these characters make the tech world go ‘round. (PS If I’ve described you to a T, please don’t be offended—the above was written with tongue planted firmly in cheek).  All in good fun.

 

 

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The Day I Had To Wear Pants To Ring The IPO Bell

Posted by Dharmesh Shah on November 20, 2014 in hubspot 20 Comments

It's #TBT. It's been a busy and exciting several months.

Earlier this year, HubSpot decided to publicly file our S1 document as part of the IPO process.  On October 9th 2014, after our IPO roadshow, I had the thrill of joining a few HubSpotters and ringing the bell on the NYSE.  $HUBS (NYSE:HUBS) was off to the races.

hubspot-ipo-small
Note: I'm the guy in the middle.  I'm easy to pick out because I'm the calmest one of the bunch.  That's not because I'm cool and collected, but because I'm a bit overwhelmed by it all.
In the intervening time between the S1 filing and the IPO, I was in what is known as a "quiet period" during which I couldn't really say too much about the company.  I don't know all the details in terms of what one can and can't say during a quiet period.  I'm not a lawyer and have never played one on TV (or whatever the kids are calling these days).  So, I erred on the side of conservatism and didn't say much at all during that period.
 quiet-period-tweet-2

Last week, we had our first earnings call as a public company.  Here's the full article: HubSpot Announces 51% Revenue Growth For Third Quarter 2014.  tl;dr: We beat analyst expectations and raised guidance.

So, now, I'm officially out of the "quiet period".  This means I'll be resuming my normal level of blogging, tweeting and such.  And, I can now retweet and link to articles about HubSpot that include the word IPO (like this one).

A few quick observations from the IPO process itself (a longer article, in collaboration with my co-founder is coming soon).

1. The IPO roadshow is a lot like a series of many (50+) VC presentations compressed into ~2 exciting and grueling weeks across many cities. I ended up having a better time than I thought I was going to. It was fun to tell the HubSpot story and share our ambitions for the business with some super-smart folks.

2. Ringing the bell on the NYSE was a lot of fun.  We broadcast the event to our offices in Cambridge, Dublin and Sydney so our team could follow-along in all the fun.  Arguably, the team back at the office(s) was even more excited than we were on the floor.  There was rumor of tears of joy and such, but those have not been confirmed.

3. The biggest "holy crap!" moment happened the morning of the bell-ringing ceremony.  My wife Kirsten and I were walking up Wall Street on our way to the exchange building.  Then, we saw the HubSpot logo draped over the entire building.  Was not expecting that. We were floored. It was*awesome*.  (It was particularly fun for my wife, who gets credit for the HubSpot logo almost 10 years ago -- well before there was even a company).

hubspot-logo-nyse

4. A quick/fun story about the day I wore pants: In the middle of the road-show (I was on my way to SF at the time), I got an email from someone on our media team.  The email stated (among other things) that the NYSE actually required that one wear pants in order to participate in the ceremonies.  And by pants, I mean trousers/slacks (not jeans or shorts).  At first, I was a bit offended that someone would feel the need to tell me that I needed to wear pants/trousers/slacks to the NYSE bell-ringing.  But, about 10 seconds later, I realized that I had not, in fact, brought any pants/trousers/slacks on the roadshow -- because I wear jeans every day.  10 seconds after that, I remembered that I had actually not worn pants/trousers/slacks in many years, and was pretty sure I didn't own any.  As it turns out, my co-founder (and CEO of HubSpot) had not brought any pants/trousers/slacks on the trip either.  Though, in his defense, he does actually own some.  So, we went shopping during the roadshow.  Since neither Brian nor I are good at shopping, our COO (JD Sherman) was gracious enough to join us.  (JD has really good fashion sense).  So, we bought pants, I wore them to ring the bell.  Crisis averted.  (By the way, I did wear a sportscoat and nice shirt for our roadshow meetings, no HubSpot hoodie).

Oh, and by the way, as you can tell from the photo at the top of this post, pants were completely unnecessary at the podium.  I could have been wearing pajamas and nobody watching would have known.

5. Here's a photo of me with my co-founder, Brian Halligan: "Dude, here's the HUBS ticker symbol on the iPhone stock app!"
nyse-hubs-price-iphone

6. One cool thing we did was how we handled the "friends and family" allocation from our initial pool of IPO shares (whereby designated folks got to buy at the initial $25/share IPO price).  Instead of giving this to the traditional "friends and family" like many companies do, we instead offered these shares to our partners, long-time supporters and employees.  People that have helped us build the business.  (Of course, my mom was disappointed that she couldn't buy at the IPO price, despite having indirectly helped the business by bringing me into the world.  Sorry, mom!)

7. During the quiet period, there were a couple of articles in the media about HubSpot that were just factually incorrect.  But, we couldn't respond or clarify at all.  I bucket this as "life in the big city" and didn't let it bother me too much.  Overall, there was almost no drama during our IPO (other than my lack of pants)

8. Well before going public, I advised the HubSpot team that they shouldn't obsess over the HubSpot stock price.  Of course, for the first couple of weeks, I was obsessed over the stock price.  I had it beamed over Bluetooth to my smart watch, so I could just casually check it without being obvious about it.  Thankfully, I'm over that obsession now, and have returned to a state of normal (well, normal for me).

9. I reiterated my advice to the team earlier this week at  our "all minds" meeting.  Don't get overly elated when the price is up, or overly deflated when the price is down.  Just take care of our customers, and the stock price will (in the long-term) take care of itself.

10. One of the more common questions I get is:  How has my life changed after the IPO?  To be honest, it hasn't changed that much.  That might have something to do with the fact that I'm neither CEO nor CFO of the company (sorry, Brian and John!), so my life hasn't really gotten any harder.  On the upside, it's kind of cool that a much larger pool of people now recognize me/HubSpot when when I am running around donning the company logo (which for me, is every day).  There's also that whole thing about the $125MM+ raised in the IPO too.  

11. This photo is a last minute addition.  Including it because it was one of my prouder moments from the IPO journey.  The photo shows JD Sherman (COO, HubSpot) and Tom Farley (President, NYSE).  And, if you look closely, you'll see me in the background photo-bombing them.  This is outright impressive, but particularly impressive given a) the context b) the fact that it is the only photo-bomb I've ever done.  By the way, Tom was a super-gracious host.  He's even wearing a tie with the HubSpot logo on it that morning.

jd-farley-photo-bomb

All in all, it's been a great year.  That's all I've got for now.  Oh, and if you're amazing and want to join one of the coolest public companies around, check out the HubSpot Culture Code deck to learn what makes us tick (included below for your convenience).  We are so hiring.  Pro tip:  Emails to the address at the end of the deck get forwarded directly to me, and nothing makes my day more than hearing from folks that enjoyed our culture code deck.

Thanks to all of you for your support.  
Cheers.

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