Tag Archives: digg

Should large companies like Google even bother hiring serial entrepreneurs?

Pando Daily’s Michael Carney ponders why Kevin Rose is (mostly) leaving Google Ventures after such a short stint at the VC firm. He speculates that it’s a sign that Google Ventures may be lacking a vision and lacks the commitment needed in an industry (venture capitalism) where it takes a minimum of 10 years to see a return on investment:

This means one of two things. Either, being a partner at Google Ventures simply doesn’t require the same level of commitment as a partnership of a typical venture firm. If that’s the case, companies should beware taking their money, or they should do so without any expectation of continuity. (Add to that the history of asking money back, and leaking that to the press and this argument only grows stronger.)

The alternative explanation is that Google Ventures has cleaned house, albeit discreetly, due to disappointing performance or a strategy that’s fallen out of favor with the top. Either way, it doesn’t look good for the corporate VC firm that so many people thought would reset the perception of corporate venture.

I came away with a different interpretation, or rather, lesson, from Rose’s departure: Google shouldn’t have hired him in the first place.

Rose, the founder of Revision3, Digg, Pownce, Milk, and now whatever new mobile startup he’s founding, is a serial entrepreneur who is unlikely to ever stay at a company for 10 years, especially a corporate behemoth like Google. Even with Digg, arguably his most successful startup, he bailed on it at the very first sign that it had hit some headwinds (it wasn’t long after that the company pretty much was folded and sold for parts).

We see this time and again when major acquisitions bring startup founders under the umbrella of the company that acquired them. Typically they have it written into their contract that they’ll stay a minimum number of years past the acquisition, and invariably we see them quit the moment that time has passed, if not earlier. In most cases, this is fine; the company is being acquired for its product — the talent is just an added benefit. But in cases where the talent is integral to the hire — what we usually see in acqu-hires — there’s a very high probability that the hire is a flight risk.