By now you’ve all heard the news about Seesmic‘s big layoffs. Clearly they’ve been having trouble getting traction on their latest incarnation, and we speculated about their future prospects right here a couple months ago.
In this very candid interview with Venturebeat, Seesmic founder and French startup pioneer Loic Le Meur takes full responsibility for the need to let go more than half of his staff. “The best I could do wasn’t very good,” he said. “I give myself a D-minus.”
On his handling of the situation, though, we give Le Meur an A-plus. Le Meur deserves massive props for, once again, setting a great example that all entrepreneurs — French, American, whoever — can follow. Let’s quickly look at what we can learn here from Loic:
- Support your team. For me, the most impressive thing Loic did was to provide hot job leads to the laid-off staffers. He didn’t have to do that. The Bay Area economy is red hot, and he definitely had enough on his mind. But he went the extra mile, and I’m sure his team, while perhaps understandably upset, appreciates his efforts. And I’m also sure Le Meur will be rewarded in the end.
- It is about you, but it’s not about you. Le Meur is unequivocal in taking responsibility for Seesmic’s troubles, but he’s avoiding the trap of self-pity. Talking about failure, he said, “that’s entrepreneursip. But when it reaches people’s jobs, that’s bad.” This is a great example of what VentureBeat writer Jolie O’Dell called “a genuine humility one seldom hears in the hustling, grandstanding world of technology startups.” Loic is big enough to deal with some humiliation while recognizing that other people are suffering a lot more than he is.
- Keep focused on the product. Lots of things aren’t under your control — users, customers, the market — but one thing that is is your product. And Seesmic has always made excellent products. Their Android client is top-rated, and IMHO it blows TweetCaster and all of its other competitors out of the water. I haven’t tried Seesmic Ping yet, but Le Meur has decided to double down on the multi-device cross-platform posting service.
Last year I attended Le Web for the first time, and I was inspired by Le Meur’s ability to make Paris the capital of the tech world for a few short days. But today, after seeing how Le Meur has dealt with a much less triumphant situation, I’m even more impressed.