In March 2020, as the world locked down, I was on the tail end of a vacation in New Zealand. As COVID started to spin out of control in the states, my girlfriend and I made the decision to stay. A ten day trip turned into a year-long adventure.
I think we are all still reeling from 2020. Although I was unbelievably fortunate to be 'stuck' in New Zealand, it was easily the most difficult year of my life. COVID, economic turmoil, political uncertainty, riots... certainly a difficult time to be running a company.
Clearbit, the company I founded, suffered some strong economic headwinds. I had to make the agonizing choice to downsize and extend our runway. While we did my best to ensure everyone had a soft-landing, it broke me to lay off friends and colleagues in the middle of a pandemic.
But then, slowly, the storm clouds started to part. Tech emerged relatively unscathed, vaccines were developed, Trump lost the election, and Clearbit started growing again.
Both the pandemic and the move caused me to take a step back and take a real look at myself in the mirror. What I saw staring back was not a grizzled CEO, ready to take Clearbit to the next stage, but an early-stage founder.
At first when I realized this, I felt shame. There's a pervasive myth in Silicon Valley that you're a failure if you don't personally IPO your company. But, if you think about it, that's pretty crazy. We are all good at different things. There's no shame in that.
So I decided to step down from my role and find someone more suitable. I'm very glad I did. After a five month search we found an incredible leader, Ross Moser, who is way more qualified than I ever was, and perfect to take Clearbit to the next stage.
What's next for me? I'm going back to my roots. I love the early stages of company building. Hacking together code, setting up the Stripe account, getting the first customer. That’s my jam.
I also love angel investing. I find working with founders, helping them navigate fundraising, scaling, and more, incredibly rewarding. Neither Amit (my partner) nor I have ambitions to become full time venture capitalists, but we do enjoy running a small fund.
And lastly, I’m writing. I’m doing a lot more of that. In fact, I’m just wrapping up a little book on management.
I’ve been living off the grid in a remote area of New Zealand. I've learnt how to cook, garden, fish, and enjoy a more balanced life. And most importantly, I've made some great friends.
But, while I would consider myself lucky to end up in New Zealand one day, I am not quite ready to throw my shoes over the telephone line and stay. In March I headed back to the states, and from there... who knows! The truth is, I'm just not ready to end up anywhere.