June 26, 2008
A newly minted college grad just landed a plum job at my portfolio company Automattic.
How’d he do it? Founder Matt Mullenweg was receving an award at Temple University, and this guy, a senior at Temple, approached Matt after the ceremony to express his enthusiasm for Automattic’s flagship product, WordPress. They ended up spending quite a bit of time together, kept in touch, and ultimately Matt was so impressed with the grad’s intelligence, energy, and passion for WordPress, that he hired him.
This reminded me of my own luck in landing a job at Polaris. Ten years ago I was a staffer on Capitol Hill and decided I wanted to get into VC and/or Internet stuff. Not exactly a traditional path. Through my work I had gotten to know a bunch of muckety-mucks around Silicon Valley, and got a bunch of high level intros around the business. Out of the approximately 100 meetings I had looking for a job, a grand total of 1 came from a cold call (actually it was a cold email). And that 1 was Polaris. Turns out Jon Flint, who had recently cofounded Polaris, had, like me, gone to UVA Law and moved to VC after being a staffer on Capitol Hill. So I sent Jon an email, he actually opened and read it (good thing he didn’t abide by the TL; DNR rule!), and, as they say, the rest is history.
And, one of the lessons I have learned from Jon is that nobody is too old or too senior or too successful to pick up the phone and make a cold call. After 25 very, very successful years in the business, Jon still cold calls companies he reads or hears about and finds interesting.
I saved the original blind email I sent to Jon, and have it framed in my office. It is a good reminder that sometimes great things come your way — but only if you aren’t afraid to ask for them.