I hate non-apology “apologies,” so let me make this simple: I’m sorry.
I especially apologize again to Ms. Smedley. The reality is that a lot of things went wrong that week. If one email, one phone call, one meeting had gone differently I wouldn’t have done what I did. It was the Perfect Storm of events.
I joined PayPal because I thought it was in a good position to change the future of commerce. I joined because I truly believed in David Marcus, Stan Chudnovsky and Hill Ferguson.
I still believe in them. They’re exceptionally smart and thoughtful people. They understand the business, they’re innovative and they understand the competitive field like no one else. These were the people I interviewed with. They’re why I joined.
But the reality was that although they are exceptional in most settings, they were incredibly exceptional at PayPal. I was shocked when David would send an email to someone asking them to work with me on a project and we wouldn’t get a response back. To me, that’s an immediate firing offense. Even if you disagree with the request, you owe a response. I know David will have great success at Facebook, because he is amazing and Facebook is a company that is full of talented engineers and product people who really do want to change the world instead of just talking. Facebook has, on average, A players.
Enough about PayPal. Let’s get back to what happened.
If you’ve known me at all, you know I’m a highly analytical person. I break apart every aspect of everything. This time was no different. I spent the last six months with a therapist helping to pick apart everything that happened so that 1) I could understand 2) I could improve. I always say you learn the most from your mistakes and from people who disagree with you. If you’re always perfect and everyone always
sucks up agrees with you, you’re not going to improve. And I had plenty of mistakes to try to recover from.
Six months later, I’m pretty close to the person you’ve known: analytical, caring, thoughtful and generous. Also, short and overweight. (But that part didn’t change much over the last few months.) There’s still a bit of work to be done, but I can say that I’m feeling great.
I’m excited about what we’re working on. Even though I’m not getting paid, I love what I do. At PayPal, I was making more than $500,000 a year. But I wasn’t happy about going into work. Steve Jobs said at a fantastic commencement speech at Stanford:
I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
That’s how I felt about PayPal barely six weeks in. I went in thinking I could have fun and make a difference. Instead, I had people complaining to my bosses about the formatting of my (unnecessary in an innovative company, but bureaucratically necessary in a company that has lost its way) documents for which I wasn’t even provided a template.
I know I hurt a lot of people and damaged personal and professional relationships. I’ve spent much of the last six months mending those.
I’m thankful for friends. Close friends, personal acquaintances and people who reached out just from knowing me through Twitter.
I’m thankful for people who have been in similar situations (though not as publicly) who reached out to offer support.
I’m thankful for friends in media who knew this was an aberration and didn’t print the lies from PayPal.
For the ones who did: Checking facts is Journalism 101. In journalism school, my news writing teacher had a saying, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” Unfortunately that kind of research is abandoned in the damaging quest for a lot of page views.
That’s the reason PayPal put out the lie. They knew a lot of “reporters” wouldn’t check the facts and print the message they wanted out would get out. If anyone bothered to look at the timestamp of my resignation and compared it with the timestamp of the first tweet, they would know it was clear that I quit. Under U.S. libel law, that’s considered “per se libel”. If I were working in PR, that’s something I’d quit over. As I always say, the best PR people never ever lie.
I’m thankful for a great therapist who has helped me figured out what happened.
I’m thankful for angel investors who wanted to invest in redesign mobile, just based on knowing who I really am.
I’m thankful for VCs. Despite venture capitalists’ reputation for being uncaring people (who just focus on money), at least five VCs helped me during these tough times. One, who I don’t know very well, reached out to me through Twitter when I was in New York and asked that I have coffee with him. He gave me great advice. Another has become a good friend over the last year and helped out. Another offered advice on what to do right then and told me I could come back and people will forget if I do great work. Another helped me figure out a plan. And one had lunch with me when I returned to San Francisco a couple of weeks later. I explained that I was really sorry about what I did and how it had affected people’s meetings with me. His response: “I’m here.”
You can guess who will be getting first crack when I am out raising money for redesign mobile.
I’m thankful for my team, who decided to join me despite what I did. They’re an eclectic and amazing group of people. I think we’ll do great things together.
I’m thankful for people who read this far. I know this is long by Web standards.
Thank you. And I’m sorry.
In case you’re a skeptic (like me), this message was not part of a settlement with PayPal. I wrote this entirely on my own, because I thought it needed to be said. I would have published it privately on Facebook, but the Post feature on FB seems to have disappeared. If you want to talk about what I did (including chewing me out), please reach out.