The S-1 speaks for itself.
Back in mid-late 2009 Andrew Mason asked me to be on the Groupon board of directors. He wanted my opinions and advice on product development, design, copywriting, software development, and user experience. Andrew (and Brad and Eric) know where I stand on building bootstrapped, profitable businesses. I still stand there. I wasn't asked to be on the board to give them financial advice.
I agreed to be on the board. I like Andrew a lot and I was very happy to help him. I had never been on a board before so I saw it as a great learning experience for me as well.
Groupon compensated me for my involvement with options.
A few months ago when Groupon took a big round, I was asked if I would like to sell some of my shares. I said yes. That sale is listed in the S-1. I still have more shares. I don't see any problem morally or ethically with selling shares that I was granted as part of my involvement with the board. I owned something, someone offered to buy it, and I sold it.
I was asked to leave the board of directors in January of 2011. I serve as an advisor now. Whenever Andrew asks me for product, design, or writing advice, I'm happy to help.
I've never invested my own money in Groupon or any other private company. It's not that I wouldn't invest in a private company, it's that I haven't.
Those are the simple facts.
As for my credibility, I don't see how any of this is relevant. You can make up your own mind about that. I believe today what I've always believed - net profits rule, bootstrapping is the way to start a business, and spending less than you earn is the only way to have a healthy relationship with money.
As for DHH's opinions, they are his own. I may or may not share them, but we're both grown ups and we respect each other no matter what.
I was just speculating that these developments may have a nonzero impact on your brand, PR, image, etc. You've talked a lot about the 'bootstrap vs. VC' topic; insofar as people perceive that topic to be dichotomous and you as being "all-in" on one side of it, any involvement with the other side may create some cognitive dissonance.
Maybe I shouldn't speculate about people's personal brands and such (something I can't say I do often anyway), just so I don't rouse any sleeping bears, as it were. :-)
Thanks for sharing what you have. It's been said before, but I'll say it again: HN is a remarkable place when intelligent people are having open conversations about the news that directly involves their own business.
And of course a board is made up of people with different strengths and experiences. My experience is not in massive growth, rapid growth, acquisitions, companies with thousands of people, etc. There were and are people on the board that are very experienced in those matters.
My experience is in product design and development. My advice on those matters was my main contribution to the board and the company. I continue to advise, when asked, on product design.
How often is that?
as some papers seem to indicate
As if business partners can't have differing opinions about the business practices of other companies. If Jason's and DHH's opinions are indeed different, which I'm not convinced they are. Sheesh.
If you did some work for someone, and they paid you with stock instead of cash, wouldn't you feel like converting that to cash the first chance you get?
especially would keep the shares of the "hottest" and "fastest growing" startup groupon
There are all sorts of reasons to sell stock at a particular time that have nothing to do with cashing out on a company one believes will flame out.
I cannot wonder thinking..if you were a board member, you had a duty of care to know all affairs of the company (within reason), especially under good corporate governance. If as DHH is implying that Groupon is misleading potential investors with CSOI (ok, they may have used this metric after you left - but I am just trying to make a point here), and if you believed this is incorrect, then you would still have a duty to point out as a board member, even if your responsibility is purely on product design. I thought this is how it works on large boards. Is this not the case in the USA?
I have made the assumption here that if DHH saw it, so would you! Of course, I could be completely wrong with this assumption.
I have only been on the board of small companies, so do not have any experience of how large companies split responsibilities.
Would be interesting to know your thoughts on this subject - this is not meant as a complain of any sort, just trying to understand how large corporates behaves with corporate governance.
Don't you also have a rule about not growing beyond a certain number of employees?
Plus balance all that with maintaining the type of culture and environment we all want to work in, for, and towards.
For us it's about balance. Rapid growth is not balance. Not having enough people to serve our customers is not balance. Not improving our products frequently enough is not balance.
Balance is a moving target. Sometimes we're in better balance than other times. But the goal there is to try to strike the right balance as often as possible.
I hope that helps shed a bit more light on what we need to do. Have a nice weekend.
Also, from the back of Jason's book, "Pick a fight." That's actually what this whole thread is about. DHH has been on a campaign to pick a fight with what he considers overvalued companies.
If you're interested in how 37signals is operated, you should start a separate thread about 37signals.
Groupon and 37signals are very interesting contrasting Chicago tech companies and would make an excellent comparative study, but Fried's involvement with both companies doesn't really set up the "consistency" narrative you're (maybe inadvertently) creating.
Jason responded that his philosophy is "balance." That's all well and good, but is that consistent with his involvement in Groupon? That's how this originally came up.
Certainly he has been very gracious to respond at all, and I think he's convinced me (and hopefully others) that there is no necessary inconsistency in preferring balance for one's own company and rapid growth for another -- or simply acknowledging that even if one doesn't gel with another philosophy on rapid growth that one can still provide valuable advice on design, etc.
Is that consistent with his philosophy as stated in Rework? I'm still not sure...
And I have a thing about us accidentally chasing primary actors in the tech community off of HN by acting like... you know... us.
so it fits his filosphy well - seems like he wants to get out of it slowly and profitably ..
It sounds like Jason helped the company with the things he was best at (product design) and didn't have much involvement with every other aspect. His not wanting to be involved in every aspect may be part of the reason he became an advisor eventually.
thats a deep sentence
I've got some bad news for you, friend.