Monday, October 31, 2011

The Prize Roman Stanek Has To Pay in the Czech Republic For His Success

Roman Stanek
The published one-sided emotional article of Jiri Donat came last week as a time bomb: “The $28.5 million backed company GoodData threatens our student startup with lawsuit”. Article written in Czech and English. 

Roman Stanek, CEO and Founder of GoodData definitely deserves better publicity than that. Despite of what Donat says, this not a story of David and Goliash. This case shows that we have still a way to go as a country, or as individuals (being it seasoned managers or just students) in the area of ethics of communication as well as in respecting Terms of Usage of global company data and services. We just cannot ignore the law. 

Roman Stanek has managed something what the other Czechs just dream about – he has founded a very successful GoodData company, based in San Francisco, that is booming (+ 500% yoy growth) on the fast developing computer-clout market. He obtained investments’ back-up from famous Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm, that holds stock among others also in Facebook, Groupon, Twitter and Zynga. And he has the privilege to work directly with Google’s enterprise chief, Girouard, that joined the GoodData management board this summer. Stanek’s task as legal representative of the company is to assure proper Company governance (including intellectual property rights / data protection). 

On the other hand Jiri Donat (ex Siemens, ex Deloitte, currently Associated Director in A.T.Kearney) the CEO of, that is operated by students, fights his strange battle with Roman Stanek via media. Donat has decided that he disputes publicly the GoodData Terms of Usage and provided readers and other media houses just one-sided emotional information. But this was not enough for him, Donat published even the details of e-mail correspondence written by Stanek. Donat decided to emotionally describe just half of the story, to obtain the public support for the “poor” students, who have no chance to win the legal battle (as if he knew the law is not on his side). Justifying himself that he had to do it because Roman Stanek had Saturday and Sunday to reply his e-mail which he did not manage (note: generous when Mr. Stanek lives in San Francisco, and he was not warned about the Donat' s threats). 

Czech Tech community is now divided in comments into two camps – one group believes that this is just a PR campaign of a start-up for generating awareness. Of a start-up that does not care about ethics and rules of communication, that should withdraw the questionable data first from their website and negotiate their usage with GoodData afterwards. The other group supports Donat in his pursue of own interpretation of the law and side the story of "poor students" who´s project is now in danger. They don´t judge the legal perspective, they look on human aspect of the whole thing.

Respected start-ups in the civilized world prefer personal talks and search for win-win solutions before using the power of public voice.  Respected start-ups do not build their company awareness on the principle of attacking others. Respected leaders do not publish other party correspondence, especially when hiding own steps. Successful start-ups base their audience engagement on quality of their products and services. 

I am sure that because Roman Stanek believes that “Tough times create tough Companies”, this small episode will help Good Data to strengthen their position and also they will be more ready next time to face surprising unfair attacks, especially if they come from the home country. 

I personally wish that next time, when we, the Czechs, send the messages to the world, they will have such substance, that will inspire other nations and generate respect for what we, here - in small country - are capable to invent, not the stories similar to fake David and Goliash, where the need to obey to law and ethics are disputed. 

Roman Stanek

Is one of few Czech entrepreneurs who managed to transfer his success traits to the U.S., the home of tech innovation. He is today well known among business circles and Venture Capitalist in Silicon Valley, as the Company GoodData - which he founded and which he leads as CEO – has its head-office there. 

Nowadays Good Data have back up of $28.5 million investments funds, coming mainly from famous Andreessen Horowitz venture capital firm, that holds stock in all four of the highest-valued privately held social-media companies: Facebook, Groupon, Twitter and Zynga

Roman could receive this backing up of such a famous VC firm, only because he never thought his Czech roots were a limit for him. He always believed that: “We live in a flat world. Building thriving start-up Companies is possible also in Europe, or even in the Czech republic.” Nationality does not matter. But for the Company scale and networking purposes it is advisable to be based close to the TECH beating-heart center – close to California. 

Community, collaboration and governance are the three focus areas of Roman. Roman also shares the Seth Godin’s wisdom, that “It takes three years to be an overnight success, sometimes more.” Roman – although still born under state controlled and planned communist regime - built up his way as self made serial entrepreneur of three global companies. His real success came during the last decade, when his booming companies were acquired by leading multinationals: NetBeans (acquired by Sun Microsystems) and Systinet (acquired by Mercury Interactive and later Hewlett Packard). 

Andreessen Horowitz’s O’Farrell on GoodData: “I see the startup becoming a billion dollar company.” 

Girouard: “GoodData has an amazing opportunity to build a huge business, and GoodData has taken a unique and promising approach to leading in this market.” 


Started back in 2007 based on the insight that cloud computing could enable businesses to operate more efficiently when linked with data analytics, simplified processes, best practices and actionable insights – in sales, customer service and other areas. Over 2,500 companies, including Software AG, Time Warner Cable, Capgemini and Pandora Media, rely on GoodData’s data intelligence products. The company has seen 500% growth in overall platform usage in 2011 alone and is currently managing over 6,500 unique customer data mark. And more than 2 million reports were executed on the GoodData cloud BI platform in July of this year.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Steve Jobs´ Journey Toward His Dream: Through Different Eyes

Picture by Jonathan Mak
The world is mourning. Steve Jobs died. Apple stores were immediately covered with flowers, candles and messages from his fans. I used to show him as role model to my colleagues, as he was able to build a Company that is thriving to go for more than only money. 

Jobs was half a genius, half an artist. He managed to connect the technical world with the art. He managed to change the angle in which personal computers, mobile phones, music or animated film are viewed. As an outstanding visionary, he was the author of more than 300 patents himself, he was behind the success of iPhones, iPods and iPads. He has built the most valuable Company in the world with a salary of only 1 dollar per year.

Dylan and Picasso were his icons, he admired them for refusal to stand still, for choosing their own way. They always wanted to further develop themselves, they kept risking failure. Same as Steve Jobs. He himself gave in the 80th his voice to the TV ad, in which he encouraged people to think differently. He believed, that “Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” He wanted to sell experiences, not products. 

Jobs was thrilled by revolutionary changes. He once said: “Because they are harder. They’re more stressful emotionally. And you usually go through a period where everybody tells you that you’ve completely failed.” 

Jobs tried to protect his privacy until last minute. This did not stop him however to become the face of a company, which he together with Steve Wozniak founded in 1976, and to which he returned after forced break in 1997, to prevent it from possible bankruptcy. Jobs was the one who managed to pass his passion for Apple total experience to others, to engage others to become part of one big cult family, named Apple. 

Jobs had big visions. He wanted to do a ding in the Universe. He wanted be the best. Anytime, anywhere. He managed to succeed despite his misfortune. Despite the fact that he was not wanted by his parents, despite starving during his University days from lack of money (having one warm meal per week in the Hare Krishna), despite the fact that he was fired from a Company he himself founded, or as well despite his non-curable pancreatic cancer. Each time he was able to put himself together, used setbacks to strengthen self and continued with even bigger drive and passion the journey to fight for his dream. 

Jobs experienced what it takes to be publicly cursed or exalted. His last decade was the most fruitful for him. He became the icon. Maybe because he realized that he is mortal. Maybe because he was able to finally deal with his past, when he denied paternity of his daughter, when he did not finish the university, when he tested the LSD drug or when he refused to pay deserved bonus to his friend Wozniak.

He did not care much about others most of the time when he went for his goal. In his desire to be perfect, he used to be tough not only towards himself, but also towards his employees and business partners. He did not mind to wake them up from bed in the middle of the night and ask them to immediately rework things. But when you are a genius, the world does not judge you the same way. The best professionals followed him with passion anyhow. 

Would it be possible for Steve Jobs to change the world and stand aside the world inventors like Henry Ford or Thomas Edison, if he did not went through so many failures? Would he be able to realize, that he has to live every single day fully, when he would not feel the end of his life is approaching? 

Maybe his authorized biography, which is going to be published already on October 24th (and most probably will be also showed in a feature film by Sony) will reveal more things. Jobs has allowed Walter Isaacson to get closer to him. He wanted his children to understand his motives, and why he was not there for them when they needed him most. Jobs tried to unveil his personal life mission to them as well as to the Stanford´s students: 

„Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.

For more quotes from Steve Jobs - Please refer to my older blog: Steve Jobs´ Most Relevant Quotes You Never Dare To Forget


Monday, October 3, 2011

Too Much Authenticity From ex-Yahoo!´s Carol Bartz

Everybody appreciates true authentici­ty, especially when displayed by CEOs. However the boarder line between being courageous and being immoderate is really thin. Especially for Carol Bartz (63). Her actions when splitting up with Yahoo! have shown that she generated more publicity about HOW she has left her CEO job there, rather than for what she has done over the last two and a half years in her role.

Breast cancer survivor Carol Bartz was always known for her blunt leadership style. She has always been a no nonsense. When she has learn that she is being fired by the Yahoo! board this September, she has dealt with this unexpected news in her own way. Even before completing her departure deal with the board, she was quick to announce to all Yahoo's 14,000 employees via an iPad email:  "I am very sad to tell you that I've just been fired over the phone by Yahoo's Chairman of the Board (Roy Bostock). It has been my pleasure to work with all of you and I wish you only the best going forward. "

The firing of Bartz was messier than it needed to be. Several sources admitted that she was caught by surprise. In her first interview with Fortune since her dismissal, she was very direct to describe her situation: "These people f---ed me over." … On Tuesday, Bartz was in New York, to speak at Citigroup's (C) technology conference the next day, when she was supposed to call Roy Bostock at 6 p.m. "I called him at 6:06," she recalls. When he got on the line, she says, he started reading a lawyer's prepared statement to dismiss her."I said, 'Roy, I think that's a script,'" adding, "'Why don't you have the balls to tell me yourself?'"When Bostock finished reading, Bartz didn't argue—"I got it. I got it," she told the Yahoo chairman. "I thought you were classier," she added. Such kind of statements burn a lot of bridges and divide people into her fans or rather strict opponents.

Bartz is a seasoned executive, proud for what she has achieved, not wiling to be in any way manipulated. She often uses „salty“ language to express her blunt assessments. Reporters love her unforgettable bon mots – e.g. when she refered to Yahoo!'s board as a "bunch of doofuses“  or back in May 2010, when she became famous for her sharp response to aggressive interview attack of Michael Arrington, the internet tech blogger, when she used the „fuck off“ /you tube link/ words to calm him down.

Once Bartz said: "I have a belief that life isn't about balance, because balance is perfection ... Rather, it's about catching the ball before it hits the floor ." Now she entered a period of life to decide which ball she wants to catch up next. The couriosity stands around the question if she is going to learn to build bridges and gather fans.

Note:  According to Mashable: Yahoo, the No. 1 search engine early last decade and a product of the late 1990s dot-com boom, has in recent years lost ground to Google Inc. and been hurt by social-network firm Facebook Inc. Both are taking away market share in selling online graphical and video ads, a market in which Yahoo previously shone. The number of minutes that U.S. website visitors spend on Yahoo sites per month has dropped 33% since Ms. Bartz's arrival 2 ½ years ago, according to comScore Inc.  

Bartz, 63, never was able to articulate a strategy to win over investors. Despite being one of the pioneers in the online search business, Yahoo has seen its market share dwindle in recent times. Not only have the users turned to its rivals, advertisers have also been ditching the company. Research firm eMarketer has projected that Facebook will overtake Yahoo in online display advertising in the US this year. Analysts said a lack of focus and direction have hurt the company's image.

 A mother of three and a breast-cancer survivor, Ms. Bartz grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, where she was a high-school homecoming queen. She became a top executive at Sun Microsystems before becoming CEO of Autodesk Inc., which develops software for designers. In 14 years at Autodesk, she increased revenue and the share price. She stepped down in 2006 before being lured to Yahoo's headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif., three years later. "

Bartz Timeline according to Mercury News: