02 May 2012

Letting Go

I’ve been debating how to write this for a few days. The issues involved are painful, expose personal and shared failures, and discussing them has the potential of upsetting people I’ve worked with for the past two years.

I left SpeakerText last Friday. Over the next three months, the company that we spent thousands of hours building will be shuttered as gracefully as possible.

As first-time founders, we made many bad business decisions. But in the end, the thing that landed us in the deadpool was not a lack of funds or an unviable business model. SpeakerText had non-trivial revenues backed by sophisticated technology. Last month, we processed 250 hours of transcription with minimal human oversight, and we projected further growth.

No, what killed us was the inability of the founding team to agree on a path forward. As we worked together, it became increasingly apparent that each of us desired to build a very different type of company. The smart course of action would have been to have part of the team leave, and to continue growing the business with a singular focus. Unfortunately, we did not choose that path.

There are many lessons to be learned from this experience; perhaps I’ll share them at a later time.

As for me, I’m headed to Facebook starting in June. I hope that I will be able to augment the skills I’ve developed working on early-stage products with experience developing for a site that serves a trillion pages (literally) every month. I’m also looking forward to an environment with less chaos and more stability.

I’m disappointed that I had to let go of SpeakerText, but I am truly excited about learning new things and meeting new people. The other day, my fortune cookie read “There will be many surprises; unexpected gains are likely.” I can’t ask for anything more.