A Declaration of Dependence

For the past eight years, I’ve worked only for companies I launched, each from my kitchen. Bluestreak is the third of three, and by far the most successful. We generate lots of revenue, are cash flow positive, are growing, and have a great team. Our customers are very loyal, often recommending us to others. The market is shifting significantly in positive ways, particularly for third-party ad serving.

For those of you who haven’t been sleeping under a rock, a seismic shift has taken place in online advertising technology. DoubleClick is exploring selling off its individual business units. In its first move since the announcement last month, the company shuttered its Site Advance product earlier this week; DoubleClick is passing off existing Web analytics customers to Omniture. Everyone’s wondering which products will move next and where. This bodes well for competitors, who suddenly have a new story to tell.

It wasn’t too long ago we lost an ad-serving pitch to DoubleClick. In the buyer’s mind, “Nobody ever got fired for choosing the incumbent who is stable and not going anywhere.” How things change.

Bluestreak particularly benefits from this since the third-party ad-serving space is relatively sparsely populated. Bluestreak, Atlas DMT, DoubleClick, and Mediaplex are the dominant players, and the barriers to entry are getting higher with the new measurement and auditing standards released by the IAB.

So my little company, which has grown far beyond being “mine” or even “little,” is well positioned as I move on to explore the next chapter of my career. The team is deep enough to handle losing me. Appropriately, I’m closing out the old year and moving into the New Year with a new focus.

For those of you who know me, you probably expect I’m starting a new company. That would be a good guess. I was out shopping around business plans, looking for funding, and getting ready to make a move. But about two months ago I had an epiphany. Late one night, I was working on an update to a business plan, and I realized: I’ve never worked for a company I didn’t launch.

This left me feeling rather odd. On one hand, I’m very proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish. I’ve learned way more about a much wider range of things than most of my colleagues who went the large company route (that is, unless they were a founder). On the other hand, there are some rather simple things many managers in large companies do on a daily basis that I’ve never had to.

I realized I hired most of my bosses over the past eight years. That gave me the chance to choose bosses I’d learn a lot from. A few were exceptional.

But I decided that, while my kids are young, to make a career move that will let me learn the things my resume is missing. Rather than start something from scratch, I want the opportunity to learn from an established, winning company. So, I put out some feelers.

It’s been an invigorating experience. I’ve met a lot of new people over the past few months. I’ve learned an immense amount about the technology that runs a lot of other companies. And very fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to choose from multiple offers to find the right position for me — not just for the employer.

Many of the companies that offered me positions do very interesting things. I was gratified by the quality and number of offers I had. It speaks to the growth the industry is experiencing right now and to the intelligence and tenacity of those running things in this industry. In the end, a hard decision had to be made.

Next week, I’ll start my new job at Microsoft, in MSN Product Planning. Happy holidays, everyone! See you next year!

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