My return to CEO at Techstars

Last week, I announced that I have returned the the CEO seat at Techstars. It’s a unique situation, because I’ve led or co-led Techstars for 13 of the 17 years it has existed and have been Chairman for the last several years. Since the announcement, I’ve consistently been asked three questions so I thought I’d share my thoughts on them here.

First, “Was I forced into action in an interim role“? This is being asked because Maelle stepped down for health reasons, and of course we all wish her all the best as she addresses those issues. But… No, nobody made me take the CEO role! And, no it’s not an interim role. Of course, nothing in life is permanent, but my intention is that I’ll be CEO long term and indefinitely. My time as Chairman has provided a different perspective on what’s working (and what’s not), and how to lead Techstars to the next 17 years of even greater success. And that got me really fired up!

Second, I’ve been asked “Does this mean Techstars accelerators will return to places like Boulder, Seattle, etc?” I quickly addressed this question with our employees, LPs, and partners because they were all asking. There is a lot of fresh pain there. I have lots of friends in those markets. Some of my friends are sad and disappointed. A few are even angry. Ultimately we are running a business and business decisions get made. Of course, we want to invest in the best founders we can find, with the most interesting ideas. There are a ton of interesting founders and interesting ideas in those startup communities. We were a pretty important part of their community and now they understandably feel like we aren’t.  What we have to fix, at a minimum, is that feeling. Maybe there are opportunities to do more.  Maybe we can earn those opportunities. We love those communities, we owe them more than sadness and disappointment. 

Finally, I’ve been asked “Does this mean that Techstars will change our Headquarters back to Boulder, instead of New York?” Our official HQ remains NYC, however we have 3 major offices globally: New York, Denver, and London. But we also have employees all around the world, since we operate in so many startup communities. When we designed our existing NYC office as the HQ a few months ago, it did not mean that we were relocating any employees. Because most of our executive team is based in NYC, including the CEO at the time, it just made sense. So while our HQ is officially in NYC, we have major offices in Denver and London, operate around the world, and as CEO I am based in Boulder, Colorado. We are part of startup communities everywhere.

If you are an alumni, mentor, partner, or feel connected to Techstars in any way, I’d love to hear from you. The inbound support from the network has been amazing already, and I can feel the 💚. Thank you. It means the world.

file under: Startups