Russ Siegelman

       Today was a two board meeting day. I spent the morning at AdKnowledge and the afternoon at Impresse. The AdKnowledge board is formally only four people, but the meeting usually includes a number of AdKnowledge execs and more than one person from some of the investors. As a result there are just enough attendees with an opinion (and I am one for sure!) that discussions can occasionally resemble the proverbial three-ring circus. One topic that is sure to generate a lot of talk is financing. AdKnowledge is raising money, so the CEO took us through reviewing the prospective investor list and offers. After that the craziness set in, and discussion that could only be described as “tangential” ensued. We ended up discussing a merger with a much larger entity, with AdKnowledge ending up in control of the resulting company. This is as unlikely as getting through an entire AdKnowledge board meeting without one of these off-the-wall conversations!
       Thankfully we moved quickly through the formal section of the meeting (e.g., we approved option grants, considered resetting the common share price, and approved minutes of last board meeting, etc.). But by then we had only 90 minutes to get to the meaty and valuable part of the meeting–reviewing the state of the business. Things are really exploding at AdKnowledge, so the news was mostly good. Though I am super excited by the progress at AdKnowledge, I tried to subdue my response. Whenever one of my young startups delivers positive news, I congratulate it, and then I change the topic and exhort it to get on to taking the next hill! It is very hard to make a startup successful, because the odds are so stacked in favor of established companies, with their advantages in money, resources, know-how, and so much more. So I constantly feel the need to remind management that feeling good about its accomplishments for anything longer than a momentary pat on the back is too much!
       The Impresse meeting is quite different in tone, to some degree because the company is at a much younger stage than AdKnowledge. The meeting is smaller, and more focused, but we don’t always cover as much ground as I’d like. Today we also start out with a financing discussion, then move on to a review of the early customer accounts, and close with a status update on engineering.
       I drive home in the dark up 280, thinking about my upcoming evening with my family. When I was younger my job was all-consuming, and it was often difficult for me to stop thinking about work even after I was home. But either because I’ve matured, or maybe because I now have kids (nothing like kids to focus you when you get home!), it’s easier for me to take the focus off work. Within minutes of being in the door I am playing with Max and Jake, getting ready for dinner–and not thinking about work. It’s nice to have a life outside of work, and sometimes I wonder how I ever survived otherwise.