Founder and CEO
On June 20, 2016 I published the article “On the Rebound from Epic Failure” describing my failure as CEO of Fab.com.”
Today, Bloomberg published a follow-up to that article along with a podcast. The Bloomberg story is also re-posted on Medium.
My response follows.
I am currently focusing all of my efforts towards rehabilitating my reputation by building a product, Pepo, that I hope people will value and appreciate, and by steering the Company, Pepo Inc., in a manner that I hope earns the trust and respect of employees, partners, investors, and onlookers. I know that will take time and that actions speak louder than words.
At the end of the Bloomberg podcast Sarah & Brad question whether employees and investors would ever follow me again. That’s a fair question that I earned. Rebounding from epic failure should be hard and it should come with skepticism. Or, put another way, I started Fab with the benefit of the doubt based on my most recent prior history founding socialmedian, while I start Pepo with mountains of doubt to overcome based on my most recent prior history founding Fab — as it should be.
In the course of her reporting, Sarah asked me what lessons I would impart to founders who hear my story. While I don’t pretend to have all the answers, here is some of my perspective:
Go to great lengths to remain humble and fight hubris at all costs.
Run your company on day 365 and day 1000 with the same startup mentality you began with on day 1. Companies are founded with a blend of optimism and fear: “We think this can work, we believe this can work, but we have no idea if it will work.” Retain that same mentality no matter how big you grow or how much success you achieve. Don’t ever allow yourself to slip into thinking “we figured it out” or you risk losing it all.
If you are ambitious and if you grow your company fast, this will be your own personal epic battle. It is extremely hard to remain humble when you are piloting a rocket ship. It is extremely hard to remain humble when the world is telling you you are winning. Always remember your startup roots, and surround yourself with advisors who challenge you and who see dangers where you see opportunity. Listen to the pockets of doubt and criticism and understand where they are coming from. Acknowledge and address the weaknesses of your business model more than your strengths.
The ultimate respect you can demonstrate to your team and to your investors is to carefully protect their investments. You can only do that if you protect your blindside, embrace voices of dissent, fight arrogance, and remain humble.
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