There’s a long profile of me — and to a lesser degree, PandoDaily — in next month’s San Francisco Magazine. It just went online today. I was just going to Tweet about it, but figured it warrants a quick post, for two reasons.
First off, the reporter, Diana Kapp, put a staggering amount of work into this piece, which she has been reporting since early May. And any reporter who does that much work deserves a shout out.
The work shows: It’s probably the most accurate thing I’ve read about myself. It captures all the reasons people hate me as well as the reasons some people like me. Most of all, it captures me as an entrepreneur pretty accurately. That is to say, like most entrepreneurs, my life is total chaos, I swing between confidence and self-doubt and I hustle from morning until the wee hours of the next morning to try to make my company great. That’s not to say I agree with it all. It’s certainly not a puff piece. But it’s a pretty accurate outsider’s view of me.
My initial reaction was that the piece is less fair on PandoDaily. Some of the criticisms made seem to be describing the PandoDaily of several months ago; a lot of our big scoops and the high impact stories we’ve written go unmentioned. Also we’ve made some major staffing changes in the last month that have made us significantly stronger. So sort of unfair not to mention those, I thought. But then I realized that my problems with the piece sound exactly like the gripes I hear from pretty much every entrepreneur I’ve ever written a balanced story about. Things always look different on the inside of a startup than on the outside — and if I’m willing to dish it out, I have to be able to take it myself. So, yes, nice job Diana. And I’m flattered we deserved so much ink. And actual framable ink on paper at that!
The second reason I decided to write something is that Diana broke a fairly significant piece of personal news that I can’t exactly hide much longer. I’m pregnant. Again.
I’ve written already about why I think being a “momtrepreneur” is hard but doable, and in general we should stop whining about it. And I’ve written many times I think the whole sexism in Silicon Valley thing is overstated. Being a woman hasn’t created significant challenges in getting funding, being taken seriously, hiring both smart up and comers and A-list talent like Adam Penenberg. Even our pet trolls pretty much just hate me for me, not because I’m a woman.
So I don’t have a lot more to add now that I’m having a second baby. Except that it’ll really put all those things I’ve said to the test.
So far so good. During this rocky first trimester I’ve done seven PandoMonthlies in three cities, planned a significant redesign that should be launching in a few weeks, upped our revenue and lowered our burn rate, and dramatically stepped up how much I’m writing for the site, writing at least 10,000 words a week.
The most significant move I’ve made: Hiring Adam Penenberg as editor. He’ll fill in as acting editor-in-chief when I go into labor next spring. I don’t expect to be out of commission very long, and the site will be in excellent hands while I’m away.
Given all that, it’s not a surprise my board wasn’t worried when I nervously told them I was pregnant last month. In fact, our executive chairman Andrew Anker said he thought it’d be a positive in many ways. When you are pregnant you learn to “take off the cape” as they say, and not try to do it all yourself. That’s a crucial skill in building a sustainable company as well.
Being a pregnant CEO these last three months affected me, but not in the way you might think. It has forced me to focus more on the team. Fixing problems once and for all, versus covering them up a little bit day-by-day. I’ve had to pay sharp attention to everything I hate about my company– all the things that should be functioning better seven months in. Because I know a time will come– whether it’s two days or six weeks– when I won’t be able to be the one compensating for any of those weaknesses.
As a result, we’ve made some pretty big changes over the last three months. Some of them regular readers have already noticed– and I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from them– and some you’ll see more over the next six months.
We’ll be a very different blog by the time my water breaks, and whether future journalistic profiles reflect that or not, our excellent team will deserve the credit for that hard work.