My co-founder & CEO of Plinky, Jason Shellen and Plinky advisor Vanessa Fox of Jane and Robot have been on and off the home page of CNN.com for a third day now. The article, with the slightly cheesy title “They Left The Corporate Cocoon to Blossom“, showcases several stories of entrepreneurs who left safe, well-paying jobs at large companies to start something new. Jason and Vanessa both left Google.
Staying at a large company during a recession may be safer but isn’t exactly safe nor is it full of opportunity. Large, public companies are overly influenced by the mood of public markets and hence by the macro environment. They can close or sell entire product lines or divisions. In an attempt to manage financial performance, most slow down innovation and substantially cut R&D (one of the key reasons why the quarterly focus of Wall Street isn’t great for US competitiveness). This limits opportunities for organic growth and advancement from both an intellectual and career perspective. The prevailing philosophy is simple: first let’s stop the bleeding and then we can grow through acquisitions. When innovation and growth come back in, they come from the outside, again limiting the options for existing employees.
If you are a person whose skills are in high demand, you may be better off heading to a startup that has a couple of years of funding. Worst case, if things don’t work out and you need paycheck, you can always get a new job at a large company. During recessionary environments most large employers take the opportunity to upgrade their talent. The real question is whether you’ve forgotten how to work hard…
I agree it’s a great time to start a new firm when only the best ideas will survive and will be BIG. No shortage of companies hiring now.
Check out http://www.startuphire.com a job board focused exclusively on VC backed companies. Job seekers can create a search agent which notifies them when a new posting meets your criteria such as industry, VC, location or role. Employers can create a widget which will automatically post all openings on your career page on your site.
One of our ‘products’ is a diagnostic tool that helps the HR function (and Management in general) reduce staff turnover and attrition by identifying motivating (and de-motivating) factors in the workplace.
The methodology was born in the middle of the (previous) recession, when all the news headlines were about firing, not hiring – and I thought staff retention isn’t exactly a top priority. When we asked the (German) client for whom the prototype was developed why they bother with extra retention effort – ‘Aren’t they all holding on to their desks and chairs in fear of redundancy?/ – they replied ‘Yes! The useless ones are. We only lose a small fraction, but those are our best people, who can afford to leave because they are marketable and in demand…’
I think we are seeing a lot of this again, and will perhaps see some more in 09.
Are you marketable and in demand? Consider a startup 🙂
P.S. A little ‘secret’ and another reason to recommend startups: in our numerous studies with that tool we found that salary is rarely among the top 3 reasons to leave a job, and almost never made it to no.1. Yet management kept throwing money to stop talent churn. Another thing happened to be always in the top 3, and often no.1. It was ‘They don’t listen to me’ – listening doesn’t cost much, but…
Unlike the corporate world, in a startup you can be sure they will listen 🙂