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Too Nice To Be CEO

October 21, 2015

Following the tech news coverage of Square, much of it focuses on how Jack Dorsey has built a deep bench. ReCode does a wrap-up of CEO candidates should Dorsey vacate. One comment was annoying.

“Current and former employees, however, question whether Gokul Rajaram has the proper demeanor for the CEO role. He’s almost too nice, some say.”

Is that the Steve Jobs’ legacy? CEOs must be strong on creeper values. Facebook is great because Mark Zuckerberg was a tool in college. Twitter’s dysfunctional management team gave them a leg up?

I worked with Gokul when he was CEO of Chai Labs and he was terrific. Sure it was much smaller than Square but he was no push over. And prior to that he built and ran Adsense, which is larger than Square. He is a tough negotiator. Better yet at the end of a tough negotiation the other party gained appreciation for him.

I  currently work at Automattic which has had two very nice people serve as CEO – Toni Schneider and Matt Mullenweg. I believe that if these two were not so nice Automattic and WordPress would not be so successful. The platform enjoys broad support because people in the community trust the good intentions of the leadership.

So I hope this comment is just a case of a reporter getting a comment from a single individual who for whatever reason prefers nasty people and not a consensus that tech CEOs need to sneer their way to the top.



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