PITCH NYC 2012: Meebo CTO Sandy Jen Talks About Rethinking The Startup Exit

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Live from PITCH NYC 2012 Conference & Competition –

By Angie Chang (Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Women 2.0)

At the 2012 PITCH NYC Conference, Meebo CTO and co-founder Sandy Jen talks about hearing the words “What is your exit?” over and over again. She now hears instead the question, “What kind of company are you building?”

Sandy told the story of being courted to join Yahoo! at age 22 – right after Meebo launched without venture capital. That is the first time the idea of an exit came into play – the moment where you have to think about what you want to do (ie. get acquired, continue going). The founders of Meebo thought about it – they had no responsibilities at the time and really wanted to make something of the company.

Sandy asserted that “There are reasons why people sell, IPO and why startups die – and the chances of each happening are all equal and depending on time of day, mood of founders and general mood of market.” So beyond the desire to build a product, do you have a business to build?

“In the past, they have said the average life span of a company is seven years,” said Sandy Jen. “But it’s different when you are building a product, or a business, or a very long sustainable business that will take many years. The beginning and the end are very glamorous – but the middle part, the awkward teenage phase, is the part where you learn the most about the kind of business you want to build, the kind of entrepreneur you are, and the kind of person that you are… all those lessons learned stay with you and all those mistakes you learn will help you the second time around.”

She said, “Once you work for yourself, you will never work for someone else again. I am at Google now, but I guarantee you in a number of years I will start something else.”

 

Women 2.0 readers: What was your biggest takeaway from Sandy Jen’s talk at PITCH NYC Conference? Let us know in the comments.

Angie Chang is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Women 2.0, a media company offering content, community and conferences for aspiring and current women innovators in technology. Our mission is to increase the number of female founders of technology startups with inspiration, information and education through our platform. Previously, Angie held roles in product management and web UI design. Angie holds a B.A. in English and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. Follow her on Twitter at @thisgirlangie.