Sunday, March 28, 2010

Where I've Been & What I've Been Up To

It's been a while...

For the last month or so I found that I had no energy to write or read personal finance blogs. Sometimes I go through these blog burn-out periods, but this is not one of them. This time my low energy level was due to recent developments in my company.

I work for a technology start-up that is financed by venture capital firms. My company doesn't yet have meaningful sales, but we have just completed development of our magnificent product and are about to go to market. Almost at the same time, our funding just ran out. This was not unexpected. We knew in advance exactly how much money we had in the bank and how quickly we were draining it. So what happened? Our CEO refused to let us raise additional funding, saying that our executive team should focus on operations instead, and that our existing investors will continue to finance us. Well, someone should have told this to our investors.

For the past month I and the rest of the executive team have been waging an intensive battle for the survival of our company. Last week we had a near-death experience, where we came really close to having to shut down the company by April 15. Luckily, this was narrowly averted with a bridge loan from our investors, which should keep us alive for the next five months or so. The cost of this new cash infusion was a major lay-off we executed on Friday. We reduced our staff by 20% and cut overall expenses by more than 30%. We will now go to look for that additional financing, which I am hopeful we can secure.

So, that's where I have been.

It has been an intensely emotional and difficult time for me. I was stressed, disappointed and physically and emotionally tired. I have invested my heart into this company and the prospect of losing it to shortsightedness caused me a lot of grief.

If you have ever been on the receiving end of a pink slip and understand that pain, let me tell you that the person handing you that pink slip has been feeling that same pain weeks earlier. For weeks our executive team (minus the CEO) has been shut in a conference room, endlessly agonizing and debating which individuals we could afford to lose as a company, knowing full well the pain and suffering that we were about to cause these people. We had no choice.

Our CEO was on a month long vacation for much of that time. Yes, he was.

My writing will continue to be sporadic for a while, while I continue to battle for the life of our company, with my job and potentially my career on the line.

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frugal zeitgeist said...

Welcome back, my friend. It sounds like things have been truly horrible. Very best wishes for a turnaround.

If anyone can pull this off, you can.

Joel said...

Hi Shaddox. Having been in similar situations in the past, I really feel for you. Unfortunately, nine tech startups out of ten go through the same problems. Hopefully, you manage to generate some market traction and get your investors to loosen the leash.

Good luck.

Kim Stiens said...

I know you're probably reluctant to reveal your secret identity, but what product do you make? Would it be something i'd be interested in buying?

Shadox said...

Thank you all for your kind comments.

Frugal - your trust is misplaced, but flattering... :-)

Joel - we have a solid plan. Would help if we had a rational boss.

Kim - I won't name my company, but we are selling communications infrastructure, so unless you're AT&T or a similar telecom operator you don't really want our gear... thanks for the offer though... :-)

Rob Bennett said...

I was worried about you.

It is good to be able to hear your voice again.


Duncan said...

Best of luck mate, I'm going through something similar on a much much smaller scale, so I sympathize. At the end what must happen happens, you can only influence it so the best possible outcome occurs.

Revanche said...

That's terrible news. I was wondering when you'd be back but thought it was just a normal blogging hiatus; I'm sorry you've been in dire straits at work thanks to poor decision making at the top.

Good luck, I know you'll do the best you can for the company.