a99kitten's Musings

I blog about a WHOLE LOT of stuff :)


That is all.

Ok…not actually that dramatic or such a big deal to anyone BUT it is kind of weird. Yesterday was my last day at my old job.

Husband and I along with another co-founder started the company in January 1999 (summer of 98 really but incorporated in Jan99.) That’s a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (well…Palo Alto…) Actually he wasn’t my husband then, only fiancee. I still worked full time at a hedge fund and then at night and weekends would help with all of the administrative set up of a new company, pay bills, meet with lawyers, financials for investors, you know – all the boring but needed stuff. Husband was getting his MBA at Stanford at the time. My boss helped introduce husband to some people for some seed investing. And then his being at Stanford did the rest (business school is quite useful for meeting people.)

We grew and grew. It was 1999 in Silicon Valley after all. Got funded by prestigious VCs, met interesting people and went to a few cool parties. But mostly worked. A lot. All we did was work actually. Sleep for like 6 or 7 hours and back to work. The company got kinda sorta famous due to a couple cool/interesting marketing stunts (was featured on Oprah!)

As we got bigger we hired a Director of Finance so I could turn all that over – thank god. Yuck. Then we hired a much more corporate COO than we were used too, and he thought the co-founder’s wife handling HR was a bad thing. I asked why – was everything not handled perfectly? He said it was but that people wouldn’t feel comfortable coming to me with issues and problems. I responded that I was not anyone’s kindergarten teacher, this was a business. He just smiled. And so we hired a Director of HR from another big company (that just flamed out) and paid him literally twice what I had been making (as the CEO’s wife you also get underpaid so there is no apparent favoritism. Yay.)

I still kept a lot of other functions such as liaise with legal and handle as much as I could in-house without paying the high=priced lawyers, all of the stock plan administration, office management, facilities and anything that people didn’t know what to do with. But at least without HR I got to work a little less – probably only 11-12 hours a day now.

But I was able to get a puppy and bring him to work. That will still always be the best thing about my job. Angelus ruled the office with his smile and cuteness. And everyone hoped that when he got bigger he would eat the Boston Terrier that the assistant to the VP of Marketing would bring in. Beans. Angelus did get bigger and Beans shot of his cube and lunged at him (as he would do occasionally to people as they walked by.) Angelus stepped on him to shut him up. Beans never did that again and many people came to my office to thank Angelus :)

There are plenty of stories of good times and crap dealt with. We almost sold to larger companies a couple times. We were in negotiations in September 2001. Deal did not happen. Market kinda caved in and we had to do a large round of lay-offs. I was actually included in the 2nd round of lay-offs as, once again, no one wanted the appearance of the founder/CEO’s wife getting preferential treatment. All of HR was let go except 1 person who took over some of my stuff along with the Director of Finance taking the rest.

I went on to do HR/Finance consulting. I had 3 clients, worked on my own schedule and was able to take the huskies on long walks in the AM and adventures in the afternoons. I kinda liked it. A lot.

Then the HR person who was kept on at the company just didn’t show up. Then called in with personal problems, blah blah. Husband asked me to come in and see what was being done, or more importantly, not done. So I did. Wow. She hadn’t done a LOT. Not exactly sure what the heck she did while collecting a paycheck. A shame since we liked her a lot. But I had sadly realized you cannot trust people. They aren’t looking out for you – only themselves. Learned this lesson over and over. So my own company hired me back as a consultant. I worked there a couple days a week and cleaned up the HR area. In the process of doing that I found a LOT of stuff the highly over-staffed and over-paid HR Director and his 4 person department didn’t do or did incorrectly during their time. Was an eye-opener. I fixed it. And then took more functions back and off the plate of the Director of Finance.

Eventually husband and Director of Finance wanted to hire me back full-time so I agreed and slowly ramped down my other consulting clients. We were still in “get to profitability and spend no money” mode so of course I didn’t get to make the salary of the former HR Director. But this was still my company. Our Director of Finance had an implosion and just never showed up for work one day. And we couldn’t find him. He had gone on a bender Charlie Sheen style. So I had to get in there and get the bills paid, checking accounts checked, payroll taken over. I guess he had been sliding down his personal slippery slope for a short time at a high speed but no real damage was done at work other than late bills – easy to fix. Good times. But we hired a new finance guy shortly after because I could not do that job for long in my limited finance capacity.

We survived the Internet bubble burst, the 9/11 market crash and did grow and get to profitability. We moved to nicer offices (my 2nd office move now) and the company was growing. We bought the assets of the company who was, for years, our largest competitor, for basically nothing. Time went on and the world changes. The Internet world changes even faster. Husband made suggestions to the Board of Directors on changes that needed to be made but 2 of them (the investors) didn’t want to hear it and were not interested in making any changes. The other 2 Board members, who are *very* successful in our Silicon Valley internet world, but who were not investors, agreed with husband. But the investor Board Members basically refused and were generally a pain in the ass. I was the Corporate Secretary so was in all of the Board meetings and would see the frustration husband would feel. He said the changes had to be made or the company wouldn’t survive over the long run.

During this time, I turned down a few full-time jobs (other internet start-ups, a hedge fund in SF and perhaps stupidly – at Facebook when they were small.) But I didn’t care about a “career”. I wanted a job I didn’t hate with people I liked, a schedule that didn’t kill me anymore and to be able to bring the dogs in.

Blah blah blah in mid to late 2009 we decided to sell the company. Took a little while but we sold to Alibaba in 2010. The deal closed on my birthday actually – ironic. Husband left to start another company. I stayed as I didn’t hate my job, liked the people, could set my schedule and, most importantly, bring my dogs to work every day. But things change and I went part-time last summer so that I could help husband with his new company (do the HR, finance and stock junk…again) part-time as well. I also found myself getting irritated by the smallest things. I am definitely not cut out for working in a “big company” culture. Yuck. And don’t get me started on the Chinese business culture.

Then this year we had to move the office again. This was my 3rd office move and was the last straw. On the night before the move as I was trying to make sure everything was packed up ready for the movers the next AM, no one helped clean up after a company lunch to celebrate the move. There were dirty dishes left in the sink. The fridge that I asked to be cleaned out of personal stuff was 3/4 full. And I’d say about 80% of the people left early – treating it more like a holiday to leave the office early after packing up their desks (which most people didn’t do very well) instead of asking what they could do to help. I could go on and on but what’s the point. It’s over. That Friday night I decided to quit. It was no longer fun so what was the point? Husband had been wanting me to quit for months so that I would work less (and be less stressed in theory?)

I gave my notice the first day after the move that the CEO was back in the office (from being in China.) In hindsight, I wish I had quit earlier. I spent what was some his final weeks working all the time for the move when I should have been having fun with Angelus. But there was no way to know that.

I’ve been through a lot of people’s last days. They take a long lunch, clean out their desks, chit-chat, say goodbye to everyone and leave early – usually right after seeing me for their final paperwork. They’ve already mentally checked out. I however was handling people’s requests all day. And then met with the consultant taking over the HR functions, placed office supply orders, cleaned out and transferred files to our in-house counsel and met with our Controller to transfer over functions. I started boxing up my desk at like 7pm. After handling my own termination paperwork. It was actually pretty funny. But at least I know it’s done right :)

It was a good run. I made good friends and learned a lot. But it was time. I would have been happier about it yesterday had Angelus been here too. One of the main reasons I wanted more free time was to spend more time doing fun things with the huskies. So it was sad yesterday too. But here is to less working hours, less stress, more time to trade my stock account (which I enjoy), exercise, read, fun times with husband, friends and Stormy. Ya know…enjoy life. Work should not be your life. Part of your life – yes. But not your life.

So *clink* to me. I’ll probably enjoy a toast of some bubbly about it soon. But it is a good thing for sure.