VC Cliché of the Week

I heard a venture capital cliche today that I have never heard before.

A friend and fellow VC asked the following question about a potential hire, "does he have the clock speed we need?"

I liked it the moment I heard it.  Of course, its geek speak.  Clock speed is the rate at which a computer performs its basic operations.  It’s the speed of the CPU.  You might buy a computer with an Intel Pentium running at 3 GHz, that’s the clock speed of the chip.

So clock speed refers to someone’s ability to keep pace with the intellectual pace of an organization. And in many startups, that’s a pretty fast pace.  Decisions get made in real time and implemented almost as quickly.

I have seen many really solid, talented people fail miserably in startups because they just can’t operate at the required pace.  They don’t have the required clock speed.

When you build a system, it’s critical that the parts of that system all operate on the same frequency.  Otherwise, you get traffic jams.  And traffic jams are death in startups.

So make sure you know the clock speed of your organization and hire people who operate at that pace.