What Do Boards Actually Do?
Mark Suster
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Mark, like most of your posts, I agree with nearly everything you say. Probably because we have similar backgrounds and experiences. I have run three startup companies and have been on boards as an investor and as a CEO. Since you were an operating executive, I think you has a bias toward management, which I think is a good thing. The challenge that I have seen on boards is when there is no third party mediator on the board between management (founders and the CEO) and VC board members, especially when the board members are purely financial investors and have no operating experience. I think this problem was worse a decade ago, but the urban legend that the VC playbook for company difficulty is “change the CEO” or “fire the founder” is not totally unfounded. While this may very well be the right solution in some cases, it is not universally the right solution. By having a seasoned operating executive on the board with CEO and startup experience (ideally two or three of these people), that also have deep domain expertise in the company’s vertical markets, I think that more reasonable and balanced discussions and decision can be made when the proverbial shit hits the fan, which inevitably happens with every company. I recently wrote an article in Inc. on this subject, 6 Things to Consider When Picking Your Company’s Board of Directors. Would love your feedback.