I think all CEOs should sit on boards because it makes you a better CEO. You get take remove the blinders that come from your own (generally all-consuming) company, you build the network of people you can rely upon for answering typical CEO questions, and most importantly, you get to turn the tables and better understand how things might look when seen from the board perspective of your own company.
Let’s share a bit about Granular.
- Granular is a cloud computing company, specifically a vertical SaaS company, aimed at improving the efficiency of farms.
- They have a world-class team with the usual assortment of highly intelligent overachievers and with an unusual number of physicists on the executive team, which is always a good thing in a big data company. (While you might think data scientists are computer science or stats majors, a large number of them seem to come from physics.)
To get a sense of the team’s DNA, here’s a word cloud of the leadership page.
Finally, let’s share a bit about why I decided to join the board.
- As mentioned, they have a world-class team and I love working with supersmart people.
- I like vertical strategies. At MarkLogic, we built the company using a highly vertical strategy. At Versant, a decade earlier, we turned the company around with a vertical strategy. At BusinessObjects, while we grew to $1B largely horizontally, as we began to hit scale we used verticals as “+1” kickers to sustain growth. As a marketeer by trade, I love getting into the mind of and focusing on the needs of the customer, and verticals are a great way to do that.
- I love the transformational power of the cloud. (Wait, do I sound like too much like @Benioff?) While cloud computing has many benefits, one of my favorites is that the cloud can bring software to markets and businesses where the technology was previously inaccessible. This is particularly true with farming, which is a remote, fragmented, and “non-sexy” industry by Silicon Valley standards.
- I like their angle. While a lot of farming technology thus far has been focused on precision ag, Granular is taking more of financial and operations platform approach that is a layer up the stack. Granular helps farmers make better operational decisions (e.g., which field to harvest when), tracks those decisions, and then as a by-product produces a bevy of data that can be used for big data analysis.
- I love their opportunity. Not only is this a huge, untapped market, but there is a two-fer opportunity:  a software service that helps automate operations and  an information service opportunity derived from the collected big data.
- Social good. The best part is that all these amazing people and great technology comes packaged with a built-in social good. Helping farmers be more productive not only helps feed the world but helps us maximize planetary resource efficiency in so doing.
I thank the Granular team for taking me on the board, and look forward to a bright, transformational future.