Situation: The founding CEO of a technology company is considering options for the future. The company is doing well, with two options for future development either within or outside the company. How do you choose between strategic options?
Advice from the CEOs:
expertise is less important than business experience, P&L experience, and fund-raising
success. A diversified background and successful experience as a CEO are as
important as specialty industry experience.
- Continue to pursue all options for the time being. See how the new opportunities mature before making final choices, and either split time between the options or assign good managers to oversee each.
- Ownership agreements should be based on cash investment of the parties – not time and effort.
#1 – Focus on the primary company.
- A challenge is that most of the Board members just see the numbers, not the dynamics of day-to-day operations. They don’t know the CEO’s contribution.
- Assure that the Board understands the CEO’s contribution and is rewarding the CEO appropriately.
#2 – Focus on New Opportunity #1.
- Is this option more like a product or a company?
- Consider this option as a product incubator rather than a single product company – producing and spinning off a series of ideas for development.
- This can be done either within the primary company or as an outside effort.
#3 – Focus on New Opportunity #2.
- Software development can be self-funding. Compared with manufacturing, software is inexpensive to develop and requires little investment to scale and sell once the code is written.
- The trick is to rigorously focus on market opportunity while minimizing cost.
- Watch staffing commitments. Use scarce resources to lock up irreplaceable capabilities. Hire or offer equity only for significant contributions such as IP development. For labor, use consultants, independent contract arrangements, or look for what can be outsourced.
- Like Option #2 this can be done either within the primary company or as an outside effort.