Chasing Learning Curves
Next week is my last at Box. After six amazing and crazy years, I’m joining Social Capital in December to run brand and talent. Since startup years are like dog years, I feel like I’ve spent many decades in the enterprise software industry. At the same time, I feel like I started yesterday.
I never imagined I’d work in enterprise software. But I’d gone to high school with the Box co-founders, and in 2009, one of them posted a community manager job listing on my Facebook page. “Know anyone?”
The timing was good. In 2007, Box had decided to ditch the flashier consumer market to focus on businesses, believing consumer cloud storage would be commoditized and building for enterprises offered more opportunity for differentiation. And after a long and bumpy tour of Sand Hill Road in 2007 and 2008 (hello economic downturn), Box finally raised a Series B to invest in putting that theory to work. By the time I joined in 2009, they were finding their footing selling to businesses, and things were starting to take off.
I didn’t know many people who worked at startups in 2009, so going to a 50-person company felt risky and rather exotic. We put snarky anti-SharePoint billboards along 101 (sorry, Microsoft) and photo-shopped Steve Ballmer into a pirate (sorry again!). We declared enterprise software “sexy” and raised rounds that seemed huge at the time (a $15M Series C!). I went from a team of one to a manager. I was in way over my head, and I loved every minute of it.
Getting to “grow up” with a company is an amazing thing. It’s a constant challenge to stretch and scale yourself to match the pace of a fast-growing startup. In my six years at Box, I’ve always felt not quite experienced enough, not quite prepared enough. Not least of all during our highly unusual, ten-month IPO process — one of the worst and best things I’ve ever been through. But when you work with a great team, the hardest moments tend to be the ones you’re most proud of.
The steep learning curves I’ve experienced at Box are addicting. Which is why I couldn’t pass up the chance to join Social Capital. New industry, new responsibilities. Technically, I’m staying in the extended Box family, since Social Capital invested in Box and was co-founded by Mamoon Hamid, who led that Hail Mary Series B round for USVP. Mamoon, Chamath, Ted and the rest of the firm have a unique and compelling vision for how technology paired with people and capital can shape the world, and I’m excited to be totally in over my head as I help them achieve it.
To my Box family: I’m so grateful for the incredible ride. I’ve loved working with such talented and passionate people, and I can’t wait to watch as you build Box into the next great enterprise software company. And to my team: it’s been such a privilege. I’ll always be your biggest and most meddlesome fan.