As the year ends you think about your life, your accomplishments, your failures. In my case, as a tech entrepreneur, I was thinking not about the thousands of people I hired in my life through my companies and who did well (and sometimes very well), but about the people I have had to fire. These people come in two distinct groups. The ones I had to fire because they were incompetent and the ones I had to fire because I was incompetent.
With the first group I am at ease. But this post is dedicated to the second group. The ones I had to fire because my start up didn’t take off as planned. Like the first employees at Fon, we had to fire half of them only to hire others three years later. Fon really took off and now is the largest WiFi network in the world, but it took off much later than planned, it took off after the iPhone became huge and people started needing WiFi, and Androids, and iPads and so on. So for us at Fon, it was hire big, fire big then hire big again.
And years before when I was building Jazztel, the same thing happened: we hired too many employees, we then had to lay off hundreds but over time Jazztel has gone to an employee count that is at its highest ever by now. For both companies I founded, Fon and Jazztel, 2012 was the best year ever, but this is little consolation to the people I had to fire at the time. To those employees I owe an apology. A big one. My only excuse really is that the life of an entrepreneur is one of trial and error, and in my quest to build great companies I have to give my vision a try. But in these two cases my timing was dead wrong. And many people lost their jobs because of me. And they had families, mortgages, plans, and they suffered. And until today I never really apologized for this.
So here it is: this is an apology to all of those I had to fire in my life because I screwed up, because I failed to execute my strategy well, because I was incompetent. I am really sorry.
Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars