VC Cliché of the Week

One of the best lines I have heard in a long time was uttered by an entrepreneur we know. He was talking about one of his co-founders who one day decided he didn’t want to work anymore. He said about his co-founder, "he called in rich". I laughed so hard I almost cried.

I’ve witnessed this situation more than a couple times. People work really hard, build something valuable, realize the value in some sort of transaction, get paid a lot of money, and then one day they wake up and don’t feel like working anymore. They call in rich.

It’s a funny line but it’s not always a funny situation. Because it can tear apart partnerships that were working really well. People are wired differently. Some people are not be affected by wealth. They will work as if they don’t have a dime until the day they die no matter how much wealth they accumulate. Though they appreciate wealth, it’s not what motivates them to work. Others are doing it only for the money. And when the ones who are only in it for the money call in rich, they are walking away from others who don’t want to stop. And it can cause problems. I’ve seen relationships ruined over such situations.

But it’s really all about how it’s handled. If partners are honest with each other about what motivates them, what they want to do with their lives, etc, then you can manage the hole in the partnership that gets created when one person calls in rich. Giving people plenty of time to plan for the departure is really the key. Telling your partners that you are leaving in a year or 18 months is fine. That’s enough time to fill the gap.

But truly calling in rich, leaving little or no notice, is a disaster for those you are leaving behind. And its surprising how often it happens.