You’ve all seen them. Sitting on trees. Decorating houses. And filling shelves throughout the retail environment. Sad representational effigies of that secular symbol of the holiday season, good ol’ Santa Claus.
They’re not pretty. They can easily change your happy holiday spirit into one of gloom and disgust. And something tells me that the folks who come up with them aren’t going to be getting anything but coal in their stockings.
Last October, Sequoia Capital‘s “RIP Good Times” was the bubble-bursting presentation heard around the startup world. And given that one of Sequoia’s portfolio companies happened to reside in our backyard—Portland-based Jive Software—we all knew full well that the bubble-bursting was going to be happening close to home.
It came in the form of layoffs for the young—and arguably successful—company.
In the piece, we finally get a glimpse into what happened last October. And how those changes impacted one of the most successful startups in the Silicon Forest.
The changes Jive has made since the Sequoia meeting illustrate the ways in which young technology companies have slashed costs and narrowed their focus in an effort to stay alive. “Jive is the poster child. They nailed it,” said Jim Goetz, the Sequoia partner who is on Jive’s board. In the quarter ending in March, Jive booked higher revenue than any quarter in its history and plans to start hiring again.
We also get some insight from CEO Dave Hersh about the actual numbers of employees who were let go and why.
Seven days after the Sequoia meeting, Mr. Hersh laid off 25 of Jive’s 150 full-time employees and several contractors. They included underperforming salespeople and three executives who lacked the skills to build a company past the start-up phase, Mr. Hersh said. He scrapped an instant-messaging project and let go of the engineers on the team.
That same afternoon, he called the remaining employees to the office’s open meeting space that Jive calls “Whoville.” Mr. Hersh first put up a slide with the names of the laid-off employees. He figured the remaining employees would not look around the room wondering who was missing and would thus concentrate on what he had to say. He detailed everything the company had done wrong. He borrowed from Sequoia’s presentation and told the staff that Jive needed to conserve cash, make swift and deep cuts and invest based on results instead of ahead of them, as they had when they overhired.
Finally, the Gray Lady looks into some of the changes the company made to bring in experienced talent to help the company improve its course.
In January, Mr. Zingale brought on John McCracken, who had been his vice president of sales at Mercury. Mr. McCracken, who is known inside Jive as Johnny Mac, went to work overhauling Jive’s haphazard sales process. Jive’s strategy had always been to try to sell software to anyone who called. Mr. McCracken considered it a waste of money to chase customers who did not really want Jive, especially as the recession made software a much harder sell.
Salespeople were instead trained to grill potential customers with questions about their budgets and goals and turn away customers that did not fit. “One of the best things you can do as a business is to learn to say no,” Mr. Hersh remembers Mr. McCracken telling him.
As painful as it may have been, cutting early and cutting deep seems to be having a positive return for Jive—and their investors.
Given that Jive had the ability to lead by example when it came to Sequoia’s advice, I sincerely hope the next “lead by example” moment for the company is continued success and a clear path to bigger and better things. Because that’s an example I’d love to see all of the other startups here in the Silicon Forest follow.
I’ve been a huge fan of Yay!Monday, an inspirational collection of cool design and thought-provoking imagery that refreshes—you guessed it—every Monday. Um, yay!
But, I must admit, it left me longing for Monday on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday… well, you get the idea.
Now, the curator of Yay!Monday, Vancouver’s Chris Kalani, has launched a new site to solve that problem. Introducing Yay!Everyday.
Yay!Everyday is curated by a community of users, ensuring that there’s always something new and interesting to see. And it’s got a fresh and eclectic feel that reminds me of other amazing inspirational design sites like k10k, surfstation, and Design is Kinky. But unlike those sites, Yay!Everyday is right here in our own backyard.
It’s always great to see another combination of creativity, design, and technology in the Silicon Forest. But most of all, I’m just thrilled I don’t have to wait until Monday to get my Yay! on.
If you’re lucky enough to secure an invite code, you’ll soon be submitting creative content that is sure to inspire your peers and fans. Otherwise, spend some time flipping through the content collected by the current participants.
Clearstep is the first of its kind online community, powered by Jive’s own Clearspace product, for social and enterprise 2.0 practitioners. Now these professionals have a place to interact, share best practices, and gain access to a much wider range of perspectives on common community and collaboration issues. Clearstep is intended for all social and enterprise 2.0-focused professionals, including Jive customers.
Ever wish you could find someone working on social media or Enterprise 2.0 efforts at other companies, same as you? Wish you could pick their brain about how the heck they justified the implementation cost? Found that elusive ROI? Tricks to get employees to use it? Best way to communicate your new online community to your brand fanbase?
The fringe benefits for Jive hosting the site are immediately evident. Not only do they get a bunch of leading social media specialists talking it up about enterprise adoption of social media in Jive’s backyard, they also get those experts having that conversation while using Jive’s product.
Which, aesthetically, I might add—thanks to the work of Michael Sigler and his design team (specifically Chris Kalani)—is one of the most beautiful corporate Web apps around.
It’s an interesting experiment, to be sure. But the question for me remains: Do people involved in social media experts—especially those within the enterprise—like talking to one another as much as they like talking to non-expert social media types? That remains to be seen.
[Update]Gia Lyons was kind enough to stop by and clarify this point. The community is actually for everyone—not “experts” as I had incorrectly concluded. So this truly becomes a social network focused on social media, open to anyone who is interested in participating. Obviously, the community was seeded with experts because, well, I mean who else would you seed it with?
Interested in participating in the Clearstep community?
If you are someone interested in social media expert pursing that ever elusive “Enterprise 2.0” and Clearstep has sparked your interest, why not consider joining the community and giving it a test drive? Clearstep registration is currently open. Jive has done a great job of seeding the community, pre-launch, so that there is plenty of existing content in which you can root around.