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Archive for April, 2010

Applying a PR filter to Calacanis

April 28th, 2010
mahalo-logoIf you are a big fan of TWiST or TechCrunch you've most certainly heard of the what could be called a "harsh" or "crass" response to an employee of Mahalo who resigned via email to his employer: Jason Calacanis.

I won't re-quote the email exchange here, but I'd like to comment. Jason is a passionate guy, he says things from the heart and in-the-moment. He's also an entrepreneur leading a company that's making a name for itself. A lot of first impressions of him I hear are "who does he think he is?". If you try to put yourself in his shoes then an event such as an employee leaving is taken way more personally than if they guy worked at a global faceless corporation like IBM.

The employee I think made a mistake. Don't resign via email, do it in person if at all possible. Ok, with Jason's travel schedule that might not have been an option, but I'm sure there must have been someone he could have talked to in person, even Mahalo must have an HR department.

As for Jason's response, I realize he was under the illusion that what he said in his email was a private conversation (i.e. internal email system) but at the same time anything can be copied/pasted to a blog. I guess if I were Jason I would have replied in the following way, and I believe the point would have still come across the same but viewed much more professionally (i.e. there wouldn't have been a negative blog post resulting from it).

Evan, pretty disappointed and not only from Mahalo's perspective but from yours. Mahalo is infinitely more exciting to work for than <insert faceless company>. You won't find the same chance to prosper professionally or monetarily, there will be no "stacking bills" in your future I'm afraid.

I appreciate the standard two week notice, however we reserve the right at Mahalo to terminate employment upon indication of resignation. This is nothing personal, it's to protect our IP and our existing talent. Companies are notorious for trying to steal entire teams, and Mahalo's main strength lies in our amazing people and the IP they work on. In both respects, there is none better out there.

Again, I feel a bit sorry for you, the grass is not greener, but sometimes people need to learn that for themselves because ultimately that's life.

Although, leave it to Jason to "kill it" on damage control, he's successfully spun the story such that his intent seem totally rational by a) admitting it was an "in the heat of the moment" response b) explaining what the intent really was.

Now, I'm not trying to put words in Jason's mouth, I just thought restating a knee-jerk response in a less crass way might help switch people's position as to who the real victim is in this situation. I have no sympathy for Evan, when you quit a small company it's like a divorce. You don't just email your wife that you are leaving and not expect some fallout.

The real lesson is there is a big difference between leaving a small company and a large one. Large companies view you as a cog, small ones tend to view you as an asset, an asset they have hand-picked and invested in.

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