Today I’m stepping down as CEO of SimpleGeo, and into the position of Chief Strategy Officer.
It’s a strange feeling stepping down from the position that I’ve held for what already seems like an eternity. But at the end of the day, it’s the right decision. The decision certainly wasn’t easy, but it was the right one nonetheless.
Eighteen months ago Joe and I created CrashCorp, a mobile gaming company, though it feels like a lot longer ago than that. We were working on building alternate reality games for mobile, until October of last year when we realized there was a big opportunity in building tools for developers to better leverage geolocation. Recognizing an opportunity, we pivoted that month and SimpleGeo was born.
Just a few weeks later, we had secured $1.5m in funding from some of the best and brightest investors in the industry. At the time, Foursquare was still largely used by early adopters and the mainstream media hadn’t yet picked up on the movement happening in geolocation. Fast forward a mere five months to April 2010 and the market for location tech had become white-hot. We saw an opportunity to speed up our development by raising a significant Series A that would help our market position. In just a few short weeks we had put together a $8.2m round with Redpoint Ventures leading, and added Foundry Group to our already fantastic group of investors.
To say that this has been a blistering fast ride would be a massive understatement. The pace of innovation in the geolocation industry as a whole, as well as at our company, has been at break-neck speed since the beginning of 2010. We’ve gone from four to 23 employees in nine months, built technology that, at the end of last year we were only dreaming of, and have thousands of developers using our platform. It’s been one hell of a journey, and I wouldn’t have changed any of that.
But sometimes we need to make tough decisions. Sometimes those decisions mean putting ego aside, putting the company above yourself, and giving direct control to someone more qualified to lead so that it might be better off. Parents always seem to talk about how time moves too quickly, and when their child is ready to be sent to elementary school, they’re just not quite prepared. That’s what the last 18 months has felt like. It feels as though I helped conceive a child that is now old enough for college and can do just fine on their own. It’s a feeling of incredible gratification and yet, comes with its fair share of anxiety.
I realized a few months ago that the velocity of the path SimpleGeo was on would soon surpass my ability to lead it. To put this a bit more into perspective, I’ve only been working in this industry for three and a half years. I started out at 22, founding Socialthing, which was a success in its own right, being acquired by AOL only fifteen months after its inception. After the acquisition, I stayed at AOL nine months before joining with my co-founder, Joe Stump, to get CrashCorp off the ground. I don’t have an MBA. I’ve never managed a team of nearly 25 people. Hell, I didn’t even finish college. Instead, I just worked my ass off, learned as much as possible from my friends and mentors, and never let anyone tell me me what I was and wasn’t capable of. But I’m still growing, still learning, and need to make sure that I’m making the most responsible decisions possible.
Had SimpleGeo been growing at a slower pace, I probably could have felt better about continuing as CEO. But that’s not what Joe and I set out to do. We wanted to push the envelope, get on the front of the wave that was about to come, and build an awesome company. So as bittersweet as it might be to step down, I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity ahead, and the leader that we’ve chosen to join the team. Jay Adelson has been a friend for some time, and has had incredible success in his career. It’s hard for me to contain my thrill at just the thought of being lead by, as well as learning from such an esteemed entrepreneur. And, even though I’m stepping down as CEO, it absolutely doesn’t mean that I’m leaving the company. I’m going to continue doing what I do best: always keeping an ear to the ground and trying to be two steps ahead of everyone else and working to inspire people with the power of geolocation, only now under the title of Chief Strategy Officer.
There’s really no easy way to conclude this other than to say thanks for all of the love and support from everyone in my life: my family, my friends, our investors, Joe, and the rock-star team that we’ve assembled. We’ve got a lot of work ahead, but I’m exhilarated to think that we’re just scraping the surface of what SimpleGeo is capable of.
Now, to get back to work.
Matt Galligan, Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer, SimpleGeo