Next Chapter

March 1st, 2007 by Editor

by Mike Piraino, CEO

When I was first introduced to Exbiblio, I was somewhat awestruck by the breadth of the vision. I’ve found that this is not an uncommon response when people learn about what we’re doing and how we propose to do it. The creative genius behind the concept is undeniable and there are clear paths to revenue—not your usual great idea desperately searching for a business model. On top of that, the company (read Martin) was savvy enough to create an explicit, detailed, long-term view of just how this vision would be implemented and monetized over time and build an extensive patent portfolio to protect the world of opportunity this vision opened up.

So, how does a company with all of this going for it struggle to find its way as it did last year? Actually, very easily. It is said that “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” That’s certainly true. But there’s more—you actually have to know where to take that first step, and each successive step. Exbiblio knew—actually has known for some time—where it was going. The company even knew what it would look like when it got there and had a good idea of where to head. So, it started running. Fast. The problem was it that it hadn’t really charted the path it needed to take. So, with its gaze fixed on the horizon, it weaved a bit, and when it ran into unexpected obstacles, it struggled to find a way around. Obviously, I’m talking about a lack of short-term planning and focus. Absent unlimited resources and time, that weaving and bumping into things translates into a burn rate that is too high and development that is too slow. The beauty is that that is a very workable problem—I’ll take a fabulous idea searching for some planning and focus versus a plan in search of a compelling reason for its existence any day. This, along with the truly incredible people responsible for and associated with this venture, is what drew me here.

I originally started working with the company as a consultant, then, shortly thereafter, as the company’s COO and now, recently, as the company’s CEO. After putting the brakes on last fall and reducing expenses (which regrettably involved letting some great people go), we regrouped, charted the course for bringing our product to market and built a detailed, explicit plan for 2007 to support that effort. As I have said many times to our team, one of the greatest benefits of a clear plan is that, every day each of us walks through our front door, we know exactly what we need to do to make the company a success. And the discipline and structure that proper planning creates doesn’t mean that we lose our start-up edge.

We are now running as fast as ever—faster in fact—but now we know where we need to go and how to get there. We are building our team back up, but doing so deliberately to ensure that each team member has a clear role to play in executing against our plan. We can also still turn on a dime if need be, but now we won’t drift off course without realizing it. And we certainly haven’t lost sight of the vision on the horizon. It’s what drives us forward every day and each step. But now that we can begin to see our way there, I believe it’s that much more real to all of us. 2007 is all about execution now, and we are passionately committed to the task at hand.

So, if you were wondering what we have been up to, this is it. We turned inward long enough to get our house in order and now we’re back. This post marks the return of the Exbiblio blog, and I hope that you will join us on the journey ahead.

3 Responses to “Next Chapter”

  1. Spencer Bliven Says:

    It’s great to hear things are going strong, and that values are still central to the new plan.

  2. Carol Says:

    Glad you’re back! I was wondering what happened to y’all! Shortly after I interviewed with you — which I presume was shortly before you “turned inward” — I accepted a position as a Senior Program Manager for a Bay Area-based non-profit. I’m running the Seattle office in a partnership with the Gates Foundation, working on high school education reform. Really inspiring stuff. I do still often think about the wonderful product you’re working on, though, and its absolutely destined role in the education arena. Please tell me that you haven’t given up on Exbiblio in Education… it’s SUCH an important idea!

  3. Ed Says:

    Carol, its great to hear about your new venture. Rest assured that education is still an important component of our future plans.