Answer: ignore the noise.
I didn’t articulate the answer to this question very well at the monthly meeting so thought I’d try a do over here.
I know lots of you were surprised and potentially disappointed by the result. I was among you. As the son of immigrants and father of a little girl, candidly speaking, I was hoping for a different outcome for many personal reasons. But the reality is we have a system and you live with the results whether it is what you want or not. That’s what is great about this country.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you cannot try to affect change through civic engagement of many kinds, but those are personal decisions and this is not about that.
My comment above also gives you a view into how I voted, but how you voted is your business and is irrelevant to me. As long as you get your shit done, are good at what you do and are a good humble, respectful teammate, that’s all that matters.
But this is not a personal diatribe about politics.
The question was about the impact on the CB Insights so I’ll stick to that and try my hardest to keep the politics out of what is an inherently political matter.
The short answer is nothing changes.
This is not dissimilar to when some dipshit VC-backed startup enters our space or a peer gets acquired and folks sometimes wonder what it means for us or when folks ask us about our exit strategy.
They all mean nothing.
It is just noise.
Ignore the noise.
It is worth remembering that we started the company in a recession and we survived.
We are cockroaches.
The most predictable path through market uncertainty is being cash flow positive and profitable. And that is what we are and have always been. Right after the election, in typical startup-land fashion, there were lots knee jerk of tweets/posts about close your round asap, raise more than you need, belt tighten, etc.
We’ve never been reliant on some VC sugar daddy for our survival and have always lived within our means. Our philosophy on how we run the company has always been to build a real company and that is not going to change — irrespective of who is president.
Ignore the noise.
If you were excited to be part of and building CB Insights on Tuesday AM before the election, nothing should be different today.
We are building one of the fastest growing SaaS companies in the world (that nobody talks about). And we’ve done it without lighting money on fire. If we keep taking care of the team aka each other and our customers, good shit will happen.
Ignore the noise.
Of course, we have to be vigilant.
If uncertainty about the business climate increases, that may make some of our clients (we’re exclusively B2B) feel less secure, but again, that hasn’t happened yet, and we’ll deal with that situation should it arise. Right now, we focus on controllable things (how we work with each other, our customers, media, etc and where we choose to spend our time). We also should stay focused on building products that are indispensable to our clients.
If insecurity of our clients changes cuz we enter some type of recession (HUGE unknown), everyone will suffer. We banked a bunch of money and are a real company so we will be fine. And while our competitors are all figuring out their biz at that time, we should take share.
That will be the time when our clients realize they’re paying for industry analysts and management consultants who make isht up and don’t know anything (much like the pundits of politics) and we should be ready to go on offense. If this election taught us anything, it’s that pundits really don’t know what they’re talking about. Our assault on the pundit industrial complex will continue irrespective of the biz climate, but we will, of course, keep tuned to what is going on. There are things we’ll look at / are looking into:
- Impact on insurance – we’ll work with our vendors to see if there is any impact (favorable or not) for us from a health insurance perspective.
- Where we park our money – we’ve not touched the money we raised last year so a lot of that is parked in safe investment vehicles. We’re earning a trivial amount of money off of it but will watch that of course.
- Tax rates – It’s conceivable corporate taxes may go down so that has obvious implications.
We’ll monitor all of these things.
At a higher level, I think there are some things that are worth remembering or that we’re thinking about.
Hiring the best – I am proud of the fact that 1/3 of our team is women and that we have a more diverse engineering team than the big tech cos. And we’ll continue to try to attract the best talent to CBI. It is worth noting that diversity unto itself has never been a goal of ours.
We want to hire the best people period, and this is why less than 1% of applicants get a job here. But one thing we have been careful to do is not recruit in ways that reinforce a certain type of bias or attract one type of person. So we don’t judge culture fit by “would I want to grab a beer with person?” or “would I want to be on a cross-country flight with this person?” It’s even more important to maintain our commitment to hiring the best folks.
Build a big f’n company – When we started, it was 3 of us and now we employ over 100 ppl. And for many of you, we’re your first or second job. Creating those opportunities is a big deal and big win for us and for our community. It’s the best way for us to contribute to society.
Mark Cuban said it best here in an essay entitled The Most Patriotic Thing You Can Do.
Bust your ass and get rich.
Make a boatload of money. Pay your taxes. Lots of taxes. Hire people. Train people. Pay people. Spend money on rent, equipment, services. Pay more taxes.
Shine a light on the industries of tomorrow – One of the “revelations” of this election was the economic frustration so many folks feel. Without going too far into policy, it’s clear some folks have been left out. What was also discussed was bringing back jobs to manufacturing or coal or insert other dying industry here which is this panacea folks trot out but which isn’t really viable (this is opinion so if you’re well versed in this, feel free to correct me).
In other words, it is likely a pipe dream.
But what will happen are new sectors of growth will come into being. And we’re seeing lots of hardware, software, vehicle, energy, and other companies that might be the source of this next jobs boom. I think we should continue to shine a light on these emerging areas when warranted based on the data as visibility we provide them can help drive capital and resources there.
And if you don’t believe about the impact we have, ask any insurance tech investor. At a recent conference, several folks told us that they wish CBI didn’t cover it so much as it’s made deals more competitive as every investor is now doing deals in the space. So once again, let’s keep doing what we’re doing.
Ignore the noise. If you haven’t read Ray Allen’s letter to his younger self, you should. He ends with these 2 lines:
Get your work in, young fella. Most people will never really get to know the real you. But they’ll know your work.
Ultimately, that’s the one thing we control. The intelligence, humility, and work ethic of our team will lead to good things.
President Obama never sold a subscription for us or wrote a line of code for us and neither will Donald Trump.
Who the president is will not make us successful (or not successful).
That is on us.
Ignore the noise.
P.S. Some clients/prospective clients may ask about the election or engage on this topic. I’ve had it happen a couple of times already. I think it’s best to just avoid this topic unless it’s blatantly clear that you and the other person are on the same wavelength (and even then, I’d avoid).
If someone brings it up, you can acknowledge it was an unexpected result and whatever your views, you can diplomatically say “the results are in so we’ll wait to see how it turns out.”