I had three board meetings this week – for BlueKai, Buddy Media and Appirio. Arguably three of the fastest growing companies in the US (all are growing at 100% or more per year), with terrific CEOs and company cultures.
A funny thing occurred to me as I looked back on my notes from these meetings: THIS IS WHERE JOB CREATION IS HAPPENING!
These three companies have added approximately 1,000 jobs in the last three years. Yes, they’ve raised about $100M to do so, but it’s a solid bet that they’ll probably add another 1,000 jobs over the next 3-5 years as well (the combined revenue of the companies is close to $200M, and all have plans to continue hiring aggressively). And – I can assure you these are high paying jobs with great benefits.
I don’t want to make a political statement here, but I think it’s safe to say the various programs the US government has put in place over the last 5 years to stimulate job creation haven’t worked. They certainly haven’t created 1,000 jobs for every $100M spent.
I guess this is my subtle way of encouraging us to focus on what matters as a country – new business and job creation (see my interview a few months ago with Kym McNicholas from Forbes on the same subject). Private sector job creation needs to be the #1 focus for us as a nation. Period. And we should be taking a page from the Silicon Valley playbook.
I had a chance to have lunch with Steve Case a few months ago at the Techonomy Conference in Tucson. I was really impressed by Steve and what he is trying to do with StartupAmerica. My guess is his biggest challenge is getting our notoriously slow moving elected officials in Washington, DC to work together and a) support causes like StartupAmerica and b) pass legislation that is helpful to small business (hint: short-term tax breaks and public business-bashing do not help).
To our elected officials: Please take time every day to ask yourself “Am I working on something today that encourages new business and job creation?” At the very least, you should be asking “Are we creating 1,000 jobs for every $100M we invest?”
To our citizens: Start a company! There is plenty of funding available, with historical industry shifts taking place across many industries. If you need encouragement, read Buddy Media CEO Mike Lazerow’s article in Inc Magazine “Start a Company!”
(And yes, I realize I am simplifying the argument here, but no one likes long blog posts or political rants)