If you want to get an idea of how formidable Tracy Young is, watch her talk at the 2015 Female Founders Conference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pKR212H5vQ
Some take always that really resonated with me:
- Life is is short and it isn’t. Don’t waste time working on “trivial bullshit.”
- A small “family” can take on a bigger, better funded copycat because the small, nimble team obsesses over the sticks.
- Sometimes you’ve gotta just “man up.” I thought it was interesting Tracy used that language, but you can just tell that she doesn’t have time for the bullshit. Be the honey badger.
- If you don’t find joy in what you do say to day, you’re doing the wrong thing.
Congrats to PlanGrid!
Tracy was one of the first people to believe in me, and encourage me to apply to YC.
Glad to see this wonderful news for PlanGrid, and hope to see many more big things coming from them now that they’re at AutoDesk!
On the other hand, PlanGrid could be worth quite a bit more than this acquisition pays. I don't buy their argument of 100 billion TAM in one of the Medium posts, but it surely had greater potential than what is realized in this deal, had it expand into nearby territories.
[Ask HN: When people tell founders that you need to convince investor that yours will be a billion dollar company, do they mean a billion dollar in revenue, or a billion in valuation? There's likely an order of magnitude difference here hence I wonder which is the default during a normal conversation without further qualification on the number.]
Third, video says it had 10k paying customers in 3 years of launch, while at 12k 4 years later when acquired. Was it saturating the market, or was it fighting considerable churn after raising its B round？ Always amazed by the team's ability to sell the service at this price level, that says how much of a pain PlanGrid is solving.
Anyway, job well done!
I feel I may be ignorant, but doesn't drawing attention to her gender like this only work to diminish her accomplishments? I feel as though she did an amazing job, and siloing it into "best of..." as opposed to letting it stand on its own seems only to lessen the significance of her work.
Maybe I am naive and do not appreciate the difficulties of being a woman in tech, or perhaps I am too idealistic to think that we should not acknowledge the tribulations of achieving this as a female...but to me it seems to cheapen it rather than strengthen it. It's drawing attention to her gender rather than the accomplishment itself.
I am aware of who I am replying to, and I truly am not trying to sling mud here and I fear I may derail this comment thread when it really should just be a celebration of what Tracy Young has done, but then again if I never ask I'll never learn.
I think what JL is bringing up here is important because there is no room for naysayers with this exit. It's a monumental achievement, (for anyone!) but particularly a big F YOU to all the rampant misogny and boys-club culture that persists in tech among investors.
I don't speak for women, but I will say as a mostly-white dude, I have never thought "are there even CEOs or founders that look like me?" whereas I have, through the years, heard that many many times from women and POC.
What Tracy and her team have done is really fantastic. The fact that she's a woman is important only in that it begins the process of shutting up the old boys club, and (hopefully) a sign of things to come for those people who haven't traditionally been given the benefit of the doubt.
How would it diminish her accomplishments? As a woman founder, the deck was stacked against her, so her accomplishing this makes it even more impressive.
You're creating a separate category based on her gender, which is sexist in and of itself. It may have good intentions, but you're treating her different because of her sex. If we believe that genders are equal I'm not sure we should be drawing attention to it as a handicap. And if it is a handicap, which seems to be what you're saying, this only promulgates the status that men are more likely to succeed and I initially read it as discouraging.
I guess I just framed it differently than you. You see it as progress towards overcoming the adversity gap of being a woman in tech, whereas I naïvely think we should just treat women as equals. If calling attention to it is a necessary step in overcoming inequality then so be it.
I guess the issue is how do we change the playing field so it's no longer a handicap? I have no idea how to solve sexism and I am not trying to incite rage. I am asking questions because I am trying to have a conversation. For those who have responded civilly, thank you. I have some thinking to do.
Framing both the reality that the tech industry systematically discriminates against women, and pointing out that fact, as if they're two sides of the same coin makes no sense.
I guess I think of it as fighting sexism with more sexism. We are making a special case to point out her gender, which is pointing out that we don't treat men and women equally in tech. That's sexism, even if it's meant to be good instead of bad. We are trying to solve sexism with more sexism. I guess it may be a necessary step to get to where we want to go, but honestly I'm not convinced it's the right way to get there. To me, simply treating women as equals rather than drawing attention to their gender is the way to go. And we are not treating them equally now, otherwise we wouldn't be mentioning gender.
But I could be wrong. Maybe it is a necessary step to get to where we want to go. I am not a woman and do not pretend to understand their perspective. I am currently trying to understand it more by reading the arguments for and against affirmative action, which I believe has many parallels to this discussion.
Anyway, I appreciate your replies.
It is insider info on YC alumni that I'm guessing isn't in the article and probably can't be found any other way. She is a reliable source.
This comment makes me so uncomfortable, I will probably close this tab and take a break from HN for a while.
That is not to say anything of the truth of the post. I happen to disagree with it quite a bit. But people with opposing views (even in issues that seem very cut and dry eg we should celebrate women in tech) should be questioned, not shunned.
Please watch the video. Every now and then she mentions her own gender as a very rare-to-find CEO, and clearly use it to her own advantage. I'm not judging whether its good or bad just merely stating the fact.
The worst in all of this is that people pushing this are the ones that want to eradicate racism and sexism, which is a very brave goal but by attracting attention to all those external factors, They only create more racism and sexism.
You are right in a way though: there is going to be more visible sexism and racism from some sectors of society (e.g. Trump). This is to be expected as those fights move further towards victory. As Gandhi put it: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
Well done to Tracy Young for this step towards winning.
I'm not congratulating her based on her sex or race. It is unfortunate that some sexist and/or racist behavior exist in tech but if you treat people differently and congratulate them based on their race//gender and not on their individuality, you are not doing anything differently than the racists//sexists.
Tracy, Ralph, and Ryan are authentic people. They really cared for everyone who worked there. (I can remember Ryan pestering me to take more vacation time).
Their success is well-deserved. I’ve spoken personally to customers who didn’t even have a computer or smart phone - the first piece of modern technology they used was an iPad for PlanGrid.
This acquisition is a testament to the moat PlanGrid built in the field. Competitors tried their hardest to sell to the CxOs/head office, only to find out no one in the field wanted to use it. (There are parallels to iPhone in the enterprise space.)
Know your customers and build something they want to buy. Always good advice :)
Anyway congrats to the whole team!
Ignoring taxes, vested comes in at about 1 mill. I'll pay about half that in taxes. I have a few hundred k in unvested from subsequent awards.
I've hit the start up lotto, but I will not likely pocket 7 figures from equity for a long while, assuming continual equity awards. Well, if the stock does really well, I could pocket 1M, but it needs to go up quite a bit. Honestly, I would likely have made more over these many years in aggregate at a FAANG. But I've enjoyed myself and still look forward to work every day.
I'm blessed and lucky. But the startup lotto is not as good as you might think. Never count equity in a start up. Go for the salary.
There's a good summary here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_minimum_tax#Stock_...
Basically, if you are given stock options with a strike price of $small, and then the company has a liquidity event and you exercise your options when the shares are at $large, your AMT taxable income increases by $(large - small), and you'll owe taxes on it for the current year (at AMT rates), regardless of whether you sold (or were able to sell) any shares. This is in addition to the short or long term capital gains that you'll eventually owe after you actually sell shares.
Apparently some people went bankrupt after the first dot-com bust because they owed absurd amounts of money in taxes but weren't able to sell any of their shares (e.g. due to employee lockup) until after their company's stock tanked.
If this happens and you are able to afford the taxes, there's a mechanism to carry your losses forward and get AMT credits in future years, but the rules are hilariously complicated, and you either won't get credit for anywhere near what you paid initially, or you'll end up getting a tiny tiny fraction back for the next hundred years.
It kind of sucks. There's been talk of fixing this for a long time, but I don't think it's ever gotten anywhere.
*I'm not an accountant; do your own taxes.
Source: me, I have gone through it exactly and recouped ~100k of AMT I paid, in about 4 years.
So usually, when your company exits, that's when you then "exercise" your options (aka actually buy the stocks the options allow you to buy) and then sell those stocks.
- Exercising the options triggers income taxes on the value of the stock you are getting (minus what you pay for it)
- Selling the stock triggers capital gain (short term if you sell before 1 year, long term after holding them for 1 year)
A simple example:
- You join and receive 100 stock options at $1. That means you can buy 100 stocks for $100 total.
- Your company IPOs at $5 per stock.
- You decide it's time to sell. You "exercise" your options -> so you spend $100 to buy 100 stocks at $1. Those stocks are worth $5 each, so you receive $500 in value. -> You get taxed on $400 of income (just like salary, bonus, etc).
- You sell your stocks for $500 instantly. You get taxes short term capital gain on $500.
So you had in mind you'd make $500 (yayyy we IPO at $5 and I have 100 stocks) but you actually end up with ~$200 in your pocket.
The only people who hit low seven figures are very early employees, maybe #1-3. The exceptions are the really unique unicorns like Google or FaceBook, which print so much money everyone gets rich.
One more point that confirms one should really go work as employee at a startup for many reasons _except_ the financial outcome expectations.
If you don't want to or can't work for one of the BigTechCos then it still pays well compared to most jobs. Complaining about a six-figure payoff during an acquisition is one of the most Bay Area™️ things you can possibly do :)
This is a very low bar for caring for an employee.
Ryan was trying to make sure I wasn't over-working myself and I appreciated the thought (it just so happens I was waiting to take a long Christmas vacation).
I had the fortune of listening to Tracy Young while at YC and the story of the company and her other founder was inspiring. I wonder if this is the shape of what will happen with other companies like Remix (former TransitMix).
I remember an anecdote from the current CEO of Autodesk. A few years ago, while having dinner with his wife at a San Francisco restaurant, he was seated next to a group of PlanGrid employees who proceeded to talk about their strategy. At the time, he said he was unimpressed with PlanGrid. Times have changed!
And be careful where you have your public conversations.
I wonder what role Carol Bartz played in the deal (she’s been on the board for 2.5 years and was Autodesk’s CEO for 14 years).
Ironically, 2 years after that I got in to YC and now run our company from Japan. Time flies!
They seemed like a really great company with mature management.
Reading this news blurb resulted in a bit of mixed emotions for me. Earlier this year, prior to my run-in with PlanGrid, I walked away from a decent chunk of unvested stock options in a rather well known publicly traded company. I suppose they deserve each other.
At best the impression I was left with is one where Plangrid is a company where communication is wholly unimportant and not valued. It didn't seem worth my time to pursue them.
The people working in the field love PlanGrid. More than one company has been forced to abandon a competitor because the field crew refused to use anything else.
Know your customers. Your real customers. Build something they want to buy. When big players enter your territory be a honey badger :)
Some parts will stay great, some parts will stuff in half-baked FBX format support to pretend their independently developed products all interoperate.