It’s rare for an interviewer to plant a potential landmine months before actually, you know, interviewing someone, but that’s exactly what happened during tonight’s PandoMonthly event with Brian Lee. PandoDaily’s Sarah Lacy wrote last October that “anyone saying he can run two companies is lying to you or himself” and wrote specifically about Lee’s attempts to act as chief executive for both ShoeDazzle and The Honest Co.
“The same person running two companies — or even running one and playing another important, senior role at another — is always, always, always a stop-gap measure until a better solution can be figured it. It is never ideal,” Lacy wrote. “I have no doubt Brian Lee — who is currently running Honest and ShoeDazzle — will discover this too. Building a company is just too hard, too all-encompassing for anyone to do two at once. Period.”
Them’s fightin’ words.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Lee was asked how long he felt he would be able to lead the helm at both companies. And, on the other hand, it also shouldn’t be all that surprising that Lee believes he can run both ShoeDazzle and The Honest Co. “forever,” especially since he doesn’t see much difference between running either company anyway.
“I’m not that detailed,” Lee said of his management style. “I’m a different CEO than [Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Jack Dorsey, who say that it "sucks" running two businesses] — I’m less involved and hands-on. I can keep doing it until the numbers say otherwise.” (Interesting words, considering ShoeDazzle’s previous chief executive, Bill Strauss, was ousted so Lee could return to the company.)
Asked if this and his planned vacation for the month of August were part of the Los Angeles lifestyle — and reminded that many founders in the Valley wouldn’t take a month off if they were leading one company, let alone two — Lee responded that the “guys in the Valley” have “demented perceptions.”
Like, oh, I don’t know… running two companies at once, maybe?