Derrick Oien

Friday, August 13, 2010

Happy Trails

Today is my last day at Good Technology. While it is the end of a run at Good, it is actually the end of my run with Intercasting and mobile as well. It’s been a bit over 6 years and besides saying, gee how time flies, I have to say that it has been a great adventure and a period of time that I know I will look back on with pride and a sense of accomplishment.

Much like my run at MP3.com and Vivendi, which was almost the same amount of time, I am pretty sure this is a marking point for a move into a new sector. I have really enjoyed mobile and think that mobile is more exciting today than when Shawn and I started Intercasting in 2004. It’s just that, like digital music before it, I find that I am looking for some time in a different place. That is not to say that I won’t go back to mobile in the future, or digital music for that matter, it’s just that for me, I think a change is a good thing at this point.

At a point like this I think it is important to ask one self, what have I learned these last six years? Aside from some industry specific things, which I don’t feel like exploring in this post, I think I have learned a lot of similar lessons to my time in digital music. It’s probably worth pointing out a few. First, markets in technology are extremely volatile, fast moving, and not prone to any great amount of predictability. In 2004, there was no iPhone, there was no Facebook, and messaging revenue was king. Because of this, winning and losing is something that is driven by luck to some degree, but most important for an entrepreneur is the ability to pivot in a market when the path to success isn’t necessarily all that clear. Flexibility, the ability to slaughter your sacred cows and a focus on execution are key. With that and a little bit of luck, you might get a win.

Second, and actually more important that the first, is that it is all about the people. The people you hire, the people you do business with, and the people you compete with in the marketplace. To me the most rewarding part of the last 6 years has been working with some of the most talented people I know, getting to know new friends and acquaintances in my day to day interactions, and finding a number of inspirational people along the way. Without that, I can’t imagine how I could pursue my dreams every day.

Third, it is extremely important to always remember the most important people in your life, which in my case is my wife and my four kids. While I have traveled over 120,000 miles this year already, I always made it home on the weekend, and I always did everything in my power to keep things at home as important as my work. My kids will grow up with good memories of hanging out in my office with my team and that thought will always make me smile. More important than that though is the unending support my wife has given me with this venture and in our marriage of 16 years. She is without question the best and most important part of my life.

So other thanks. I have to thank the team that I worked with at Intercasting for this entire time. They are, without exception awesome. Their hard work and innovation were the key to our success. Shawn and I could never have spun the tales we spun if they didn’t give us the tools to back it up. I also want to thank my team at Good. While most of my previous team went on to various roles at Good, I inherited an entirely new team and added some others and I have to say that my time spent with them was great and I really value the time I got to spent with each one of them as well. I wish it had been for a longer time but that is what the future is for!
I also owe a great deal of gratitude to our various business partners who took their chances with us and in many cases formed relationships that spanned a number of years. One last point of thanks is owed to my investors who I have stayed in touch with to this day. We were extremely lucky to end up with the team of investors that we did and it is only with time and experience that you figure that out. I would work with any of them again any time.

There are five people I met along the way that I want to call out who I was fortunate enough to encounter during this adventure who either influenced me, inspired me, or just became good friends. The first one is Paul Palmieri, who was the head of data services at Verizon when we started talking about a community called Rabble. Paul went on to leave Verizon and started one of the more successful advertising services in mobile, Millenial Media. Paul is a great guy who deserves all the success that is coming his way. A lot of people inside big companies aspire to be entrepreneurs and Paul is one of the few who have the savvy and intelligence to actually go out and do it. I hope to know Paul for years to come.

I met Greg Clayman at one of my first CTIA’s in New Orleans I believe and have much respect for Greg. Greg did the opposite track of Paul going from an entrepreneur to running the digital strategy at MTV/Viacom. Greg has been a great success and is one of the funniest guys I know. He has the added distinction of creating Twitter many years before Twitter was created with a service called UPOC. I am pretty sure my path will continue to cross with Greg’s in years to come.

Sometimes you run into your long lost brother who you were separated from at birth. In my case I met that person when I met Mike Clark from Photobucket. Mike is a great entrepreneur, an outstanding friend, and someone I am sure I will work directly with sometime in the future. I know that if I ever need any help in any situation personal or professional, I can call Mike. Mike founded a fascinating called Safety Web earlier this year and I have no doubt they are going to be a runaway success.

I met Tasso Roumeliotis shortly after our company and his company were pitted against each other in a bake off that ended up getting snaked away from both of us at the 11th hour. That episode, while very irritating to both of us ultimately resulted in the start of a great friendship that lasts to this day. Tasso is super smart, an operator and a guy with a hell of a lot of vision. I am not sure that we will be running in the same circle in the future, but I will certainly keep in touch. Tasso helped drive home the lesson that competition should be something that is done in an honorable way among competitors and hopefully as friends.

Shawn and I have worked together for something like 12 years in 6 different companies so I am hard pressed to say that I have had a better timer with anyone other than him in business, but without question the time I spent with Jean Tripier was certainly a close second. I am pretty sure that the main reason that Intercasting was sold to Good/Visto was in a large part a result of what we thought of Jean. Jean is funny, intelligent and a consummate deal maker. My only regret is that I didn’t get to work side by side with him for a longer period of time. Jean went on to become the CEO of Worldmate and I am sure he will be a great success with that company. I only wish I could share some of the funnier moments, but I think that could get me in trouble so I will have to hold off on that.

So mobile has been good on that front. I could easily rattle off about 50 other people(Mark Ewen, Dan Shapiro, John Hiler, Rick Heitzman, John Smelzer, Adam Lavine, Alex Panelli, Joe Waltman come to mind immediately) and I mean no slight to any of them by not mentioning them, it is just that the above folks had a particular impact on me.

Earlier in my career I had two amazing mentors in Paul Casella and Robin Richards. Their impact on me last to this day and reminds me to spend time with those in my organization who have the potential to grow into something great. While there were many outstanding senior people in our company, there were a number of people who we got to watch grow and who I think have great careers ahead of them who I would like to say something about. Kristen Jourdonais has had something like 6 different jobs with me. She has grown into a superstar and unfortunately I think we have wrecked here from ever working at a normal company. While she is still very early in her career, she is certainly destined for much success.

Ben Reesman came to work with us part time out of UCSD and unfortunately we ultimately got him to come to work with us full time. Unfortunate only because it took him away from UCSD. Fortunate because Ben has grown a ton and I can’t wait to see where he ends up in his career. His big brains and passion will serve him well in the future.
Tom Demas was one of the cofounders at Intercasting and I would be lying if I said that we had it easy between us. Tom and I went round and round for something like two years but I have to say that Tom may have grown more than anybody at Intercasting and he has moved on to have great success at Good. I am sure that there are many good things ahead for Tom and I wish him the best.

One last person I want to mention, who unfortunately I didn’t get to spend as much time with as the others was Brian Spencer. Brian worked closely with our CTO Josh and it was awesome to see him grow into one of the top guys in our company. His positive attitude and can do leadership are something to see. Big things are going to come from Brian in the future.

Like before none of this is meant to come at the cost of the many awesome others on our team (Josh, Scott, John, Matt, Chris, Kang, Cassie, Tim all come to mind immediately) but to point out how good it was to see some of our friends and co-workers grow before our eyes.

Two last things and then this windbag will cease. Deborah Critten has worked with me for over 10 years and even today I continue to be amazed at her instincts, hard work and am entirely envious of her sense of style/understanding of consumers/knowledge of the zeitgeist. I want to thank her for her support and friendship.

And of course the best for last. Working with Shawn is and will always be a great adventure that is unlike any experience I have had. The two of us work together very well and complement each other and we have fun in the process. Shawn is more than a business partner, he is a good friend and family to me and my family. This run has been a blast. I am sure there are more to come. Can’t wait for the next one.

1 comment:

Kristen J. said...

You didn't ruin me because I never want to work for a normal company! You have been a fantastic mentor and I am excited to see what you do next.