Culture at Scale

CEOs of rapidly-scaling, later-stage firms talk about culture in a different way than their peers at younger firms.

Eric Roza, CEO of Datalogix (and now Group VP at Oracle after the successful $1.25 billion sale earlier this year (More about the sale to Oracle), expresses the difference well in the interview we did with him last month.  We strongly encourage you to take some time to hear everything Eric had to say about taking a ‘dead gazelle’ and turning it into a Unicorn during the most difficult economic times we’ve seen in almost a century (Eric Roza Interview).

On culture, Eric observed that it took work to move the team from kindly collaboration to transparent, consistent performance (my words).  Shortly after he arrived, the firm freefell,  from the darling of the tech scene in Colorado to 40% YoY revenue declines, just as the global economic meltdown was accelerating.

Eric tackled culture early and consistently.  Eric said there was no subsequent cultural backsliding, such that five years later the seven primary tenets of their culture have become so ingrained that they aren’t even written down.  Eric helped drive the change, and didn’t let it slip.

Secondly, the later-stage CEOs we work with who report that they’re still wrestling with consistent culture sound less interested in carrying the company all the way through ---  particularly to IPO. 

In particular, we’re finding that many of these CEOs say they struggle with culture in part because they’re now dealing with late stage P/E investors’ expectations that differ sharply from those of their first investors and Boards.

On the Board/Investor topic, Eric talks about managing the structure of these groups actively to insure he had a workable team – a corollary, important lesson, too.

Interestingly, one of Colorado's most senior C-level search executives observed this week that this struggle seems most acute for solo CEOs -- those running their firms without a founding team, or partner.

Hope you enjoy the interview – we’ll be doing many more of these, including video, in the very near term!

Separately, we’re excited about the upcoming C3 convening at The Governor’s Mansion later this month.  This invite-only event was a grassroots-driven exercise in collecting many of the key players around the emerging cybersecurity cluster in Colorado together with important non-Colorado constituents to shine a light on the remarkable pace of activity in this emerging cluster.  Did you know we have four cybersecurity firms in Colorado that could all go public in the next 18 months? 

If you’re interested in attending and haven’t had an invite yet, please reach out to hannah@bencolorado.org.  A bit more detail on C3 here (www.coloradocyber.com).

JB HolstonComment