“Downturns are a very good time to build things of value”

Dusseldorf Times of crisis are good times for new and sustainable products, as serial entrepreneur Phil Libin has observed time and again in his career: “When the economy is very strong, it’s a good time to sell things,” says the former head of the online service Evernote “ in the podcast Handelsblatt Disrupt. “When the economy is weak, it’s a good time to build things.” These phases are good “to sit down, concentrate and focus”.

In the corona crisis, the US entrepreneur also reconsidered his leadership principles. And he has gone from being an opponent of the home office to an advocate of the new work-from-home culture: “I will never ask a programmer, a designer or a lawyer to be stuck in traffic for three hours a day,” says Libin. “This is horrible and inhuman.”

With regard to communication within the team, he advocates a three-stage process. When it comes to the pure exchange of knowledge, recorded information videos are sufficient. If participants are asked to discuss with each other, he suggests interactive video conferences. When it comes to experiences with colleagues, physical contact is necessary. But that doesn’t happen very often in his company: he himself gave up his apartment in San Francisco and moved to Arkansas – he has told all employees that he will never introduce compulsory office work again.

Today, Libin runs All Turtles, an artificial intelligence studio that supports a variety of projects, from Tasseled, which helps students plan the cheapest way to college, to Carrot, which allows employers to mentor their employees on fertility treatments support.

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Criticism of Silicon Valley is also behind this company: Libin criticizes that every pioneer with a good idea is expected to found a start-up, even if he does not have the entrepreneurial skills to do so. With “All Turtles” Libin wants to help these pioneers to implement their ideas without having to found a company.

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More: The previous episode of Handelsblatt Disrupt can be found here.

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