Archive for March, 2009

Let's get back on our horse and ride! NO MORE WHINING!

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

I am getting pretty tired of all the panicy talking heads and all the whining about how bad it is. Yes, we are in a deep recession. But let’s put this recession into perspective:

Great Depression v. Today:

1929 to 1933 our GDP declined 45%.  2007 to 2008 our GDP grew 4% and worst case it will be wobbly or flat for the next few years.

1929 to 1933 unemployment exploded from 3% to 25%.  2007 to 2008 our unemployment jumped from 4% to 8% so far and could conceivably grow above 10% but not much more because we have already injectd $1.3 trillion into the economy and several sectors including medical, internet applications, and green tech are still in growth – just not as high as it was.

1929 to 1932 the Dow Jones Industrials collpased by 89%.  2007 to 2009 the DJI fell by 55% and it’s pretty clear that we have not reached bottom. But to collapse as badly as the Great Depression, the DJI would have to reach 1584 by 2010. Not likely givent that the P/E ratios of many solid earnings companies like MSFT, DIS, IBM, etc are running at 7 while the S&P500 is at 18. Shrewd investors are already evaluating bargains.

And of course, as bad as the Great Depression was for the US in the 1930′s it is just a blip when compared to the catastrophic economic collapses that hit Germany during the Weimar Republic, Brazil during the 1980′s, most Eastern European countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Yes, many people are out of work and that makes for suffering and anguish for millions. But let’s be honest with ourselves. Most of the people in the US have been living high on the hog for several decades, living a lifestyle well beyond their means. How big of a house do you need? How many cars? How many cellphones in 5 years? How big of a flat screen TV? How many people really need a boat…and how big does it have to be? 

Dave Matthews said it best. What we want is what we’ve not got. What we need is all around us.

This setback in our economy will not last more than another year or two. Enough whining! There is a lot of work to do, a lot of opportunity for those willing to try, and for those willing to fail there is enormous wealtht yet to be created.

Let’s be tenacious and get back on our horse and ride.

Many solid executives in Seattle need to re-tool.

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

In the past 15 years living in Seattle, I have had the privilege of meeting many executives and entrepreneurs. About two or three times a year, somebody would call or email me and say, “Hey I am thinking of making a change. How about coffee to talk about what the companies are worth looking into these days.” Those were always fun conversations.

Since December 2008, at least once a week I am getting a call or email that sounds more like, “Hey I need a job. Do you know anybody hiring?”

A VC buddy of mine refers to this as nuclear winter. Yes, it’s cold. But it isn’t all doom and gloom.

While it may be the case that Microsoft, Google, Real, Amazon and just about every “large” company (with > 1000 employees) is laying off and/or curtailing new hires, hope is not lost. For example, Microsoft and others are actually hiring in areas where they are growing, in spite of the layoffs in areas where they were overstaffed.

Many smaller companies (with < 100 employees) are hunkering down as well, but only in the FTE count. Smaller companies that are still growing need executive talent more now than ever before. They just cannot afford full time execs.

This brings me to re-tooling. Of the dozen or so “out of work” execs I have seen in the past few months, only two have returned to work in a full time capacity. In both cases, it’s because they had EXACTLY the experience and specific industry and functional expertise required. 

Ironically, in a down market, professionals with transferrable skills–accounting, project management, software developers–find it harder to move from one industry to the next. They have the functional chops but not the specific industry credibility.

One path to pursue in the event you are faced with this dilemma: re-tool. The many smaller companies that need senior executive talent but are unable/unwilling to pay for it may be thrilled to have you apply for a part-time gig as CxO or SVP. It might take 2 or 3 gigs like that to make ends meet, but in the process you will find that you are valued for your expertise, valued for your experience, and find that start-ups aren’t as risky or scary as they once seemed to be. Yet every time I suggest this to a newly out of work exec, they wrinkle their nose and say “gosh that sounds really on edge.”

Not so much on edge in my opinion as having a mortgage with no income.  Come on in. The water is warm enough.  Start swimming with those who are building the next generation of companies that will thrive after this economic hell is over.

© 2009 all rights reserved.  Michael Schutzler.

Looking for great resumes?

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

If you are among the few and the proud still recruiting, then you are probably more deluged by resumes than ever before. If you have a decent job description and if you want to sort through hundreds–or thousands–of resumes and online profiles, then you need talentspring. http://www.talentspring.com/

The product is in late beta now, sorting through the millions of linkedin profiles to help you find the best match to your job description. Very soon, they will add other resume databases (monster, ATS, et al) to allow you to mingle those into the sort as well.

This early stage product is working very well now. Check it out at http://www.talentspring.com/ Free to sign up, free to experiment, and if you want to use it in earnest, then you pay a monthly fee.

Am an investor and have been on the board of this company for about a year now. It has been an amazing story to watch unfold. The founder, Bryan Starbuck, is one of the tech savviest and tenacious entrepreneurs I know. A great company to follow and a great product coming to the world of recruiting and hiring top talent.