The Takeaway

A Lesson for Founders from Parker Conrad

Former Zenefits CEO Parker Conrad at The Information Subscriber Summit in San Francisco in October.
Former Zenefits CEO Parker Conrad at The Information Subscriber Summit in San Francisco in October.

Silicon Valley is rattled tonight by the sudden resignation of Zenefits CEO Parker Conrad, an outspoken, rough-around-the-edges founder who had been under attack from multiple corners.

The company, which racked up a $4.5 billion valuation by helping small businesses handle benefits and insurance, had missed its revenue projections and gotten embroiled in a nasty and costly legal battle with ADP that some people at the company felt was avoidable.

Then there was the fact insurance regulators in Washington State and elsewhere were looking into whether Zenefits sales people were selling insurance without proper licenses.

The most amazing thing about this scenario wasn’t that Mr. Conrad resigned and that incoming CEO David Sacks, previously COO, threw him under the bus with a missive that said: “Our internal processes, controls, and actions around compliance have been inadequate, and some decisions have just been plain wrong.”

No, the most amazing thing was that Silicon Valley was surprised.

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Your investors are under the gun. Several of their high-flyers are wobbling. And you’re in the spotlight. So brace yourselves. 


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