Alamo Drafthouse

7 lessons learned on the journey from founder to CEO

Two days ago I had the honor of keynoting at the First Round Capital CEO Summit in San Francisco. The event was held at the Jewish Contemporary Museum. During my speech, I promised to put my notes up on my blog and so here they are.

My talk was about the 7 lessons I've learned on the journey from founder to CEO. First Round Capital invested in us when Bazaarvoice was under 10 people; they came in alongside Austin Ventures - where I am now a Venture Partner - in our Series A. First Round has been an incredible partner in our journey from startup to public company. Personally, I think they are the best first round investor in the U.S. with the portfolio to show for it. Josh Kopelman, a fellow Wharton grad, is especially strong and he has helped me many times along the way.

I started off my talk emphasizing that the journey matters most in your transformation from founder to CEO. It is both a beautiful journey and also at times a gut-wrenching one. As Kirk Dando, my CEO coach of four years, says, "the path to heaven goes through the road to hell". This couldn't be more true. You aren't born knowing how to either found a company or be a CEO. You aren't born knowing how emotional this journey can be. But it is a journey that I've cherished and, in my opinion, the most profound journey that one can take in a career. It is a journey that led to me being recognized as Austin's best CEO for the large company category last year. This doesn't mean I have done everything right or that I don't make mistakes (hopefully less of them are repeat mistakes).

The tale of Bazaarvoice, as told through the shirts on our backs (2005-2007)

Every startup has their t-shirts, and we were no different at Bazaarvoice. But you can tell a lot about a company by the t-shirts they produce. And so I would like to take you through our history - and our culture - with probably the most complete collection of Bazaarvoice t-shirts with the possible exception of my co-founder, Brant Barton.

This will be a series of post, and this first post covers our first two years in business - 2005-2007.

The first t-shirt we made was the coveted Bazaarvoice Community One 2005 t-shirt. There are very few of these. The point that I was making was that we were part of a very special community - those that joined in the first year of business (Brant and I founded Bazaarvoice in May of 2005).