A Good Investor Can Help You Close Candidates. A Great Investor Will Sometimes Tell You Who Not To Hire.
For Early Stage Startups, You Need Employees To Choose The Company. Not The Other Way Around.
I love helping startups hire, especially early on. Look, companies don’t exist without founders — often when we write our initial investment checks there aren’t any employees — but nothing amazing happens without a team. I’d go even further and suggest that if I could access just a single predictive signal after we’ve made an investment of whether the company has a chance to be successful it would be something to the effect of, “show me the first 20 people on the team.” Not the product, not the buzz, not the sales numbers. The people. Because en masse, smart ambitious talented thoughtful human beings are the best prediction model, especially when they vote with their feet.
Ultimately building a hiring brand and motion is the job of the founders, but investors can help a lot. When we spun up Homebrew, our first operating hire was a Head of Talent (Beth Scheer) because we knew that it made sense to bring an expert on board. And then personally, Satya and I also get involved in supporting founders as they start ramping up the growth efforts. Personally, one of my favorite activities is speaking with a candidate during the latter half of the process, when they already have an offer or are getting close to receiving one. I tell the companies I back that it’s an inexhaustible resource — don’t save it just for executive hires. If there’s anyone you think needs or wants to hear from an investor before committing to the company, you intro us and I’ll get it scheduled ASAP. One caveat though, I won’t tell potential employees just what they want to hear. And if I think it’s a bad hire, I’ll tell the founders and ask them to engage with me on those concerns to make sure it’s been thought through, or referenced, or something to keep an eye on once they join. It’s ultimately the founders’ decision on who to hire, but you don’t take my money for me to just be cheerleader. You take my money because you think we can be additive from outside the org chart.
Yeah, so these “sell” calls/coffees/meetings. I actually don’t think my job is to sell, at least not to sell…