Passing the Baton
In high school, I ran with one of our country’s fastest 4x800m relay teams. Each leg of the team played a different role. The anchor or the last leg was always saved for the fastest runner on the team. The first and second leg always set the pace for the rest of the team. The third leg closed any gaps to allow the anchor to win the race.
The keys to victory were simple: Don’t fall too far behind. Don’t go out too fast and burn out. Position the team to win the race.
I excelled as the first or second leg of the team. Similarly, I have always enjoyed the early stages of a startup. Taking it from 0 to 1 and from 1 to 10.
The past few months, as I thought through taking the company from 10 to 100, I realized that Skillshare needs a CEO that enjoys, and excels at, scaling.
“But as we scaled from a handful of people in my living room to dozens of people at an office, I saw the job of the CEO shifting. At 50 people and beyond, a CEO increasingly has to focus on process and organization, and that wasn’t what I was passionate about.” — Reid Hoffman, “If, Why, and How Founders Should Hire a ‘Professional’ CEO
Seven years ago, I started working on Skillshare out of my living room. It was a simple idea to create a platform that allowed anyone to learn skills from anyone. It’s now blossomed into a global platform reaching students in almost every country in the world.
Today, I will be moving into the role of Executive Chairman. Matt Cooper, who has served as Skillshare’s COO for the past year, will be Skillshare’s new CEO.
I’ll contribute in a day-to-day capacity as Executive Chairman, which will play to my strengths around bringing ideas, talent, and capital to the company. I’ll continue to build the vision and strategy of the company, while working on new product ideas and evangelizing our mission externally.
This change is well-timed. We continue to have our biggest months ever as we doubled our annual revenue in the 8 figures. We now have over 3M members taking 17K classes from 5K teachers. We have been expanding to new categories in business and technology serving our audience of millennials and freelancers. We moved into a new office in Flatiron. We rolled out a “no negotiation salary” policy making diversity & inclusion a key tenet of our culture. We built out a full management team that can scale the company.
We have all the pieces in place to build a category defining brand and company.
I’ve worked with Matt Cooper for the past year and we complement each other very well. He has extensive experience scaling platforms from his experience at Upwork and Visually. I’ve seen him take our foundation, stabilize it, and build on top of it. As a result, we’ve been doubling across all of our key metrics and I’m excited to see where he takes the company.
Skillshare wouldn’t be here without our team and community. Thank you to everyone that has worked at our company. All of our teachers and students who have built a robust learning community. Our investors including Union Square Ventures, Spark Capital, Founder Collective, Amasia, Omidyar, and everyone else that has supported our ambitious vision.
I love Skillshare. I love our mission. And I will continue to support it as we scale to 💯 and beyond!
Michael Karnjanaprakorn is the founder of Skillshare, which is an online learning community to learn new skills.