LinkedIn announced yesterday that it’s added Sequoia Capital partner Michael Moritz to its board.Moritz is famous for being the staid – perhaps even grouchy – investing genius who put early money to work in Google.
We’ve seen instant messages where Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Sean Parker seem to actually quake in discussions about Moritz.
He’s not the kind of VC entrepreneurs looking to get ahead should mess with.
But, that’s exactly what rockstar entrepreneur Tony Hsieh did when Moritz joined the board of his first company, LinkExchange.
Tony actually went so far as to embarrass Moritz in front of the whole company in an effort to “haze” him.
Later, Tony made up for it by selling LinkExchange for $250 million plus after two year. Then he built and sold Zappos to Amazon for $1.2 billion.
I’m not quite sure how it started, but we had a really fun tradition at LinkExchange. Once a month, I’d send an email out to the entire company letting them know that we were having an important meeting, and that some of our important investors and board members would be attending, so everyone was required to wear a suit and tie on the day of the meeting.
Everyone except for the most recently hired employees knew that it wasn’t a real business meeting, and that they didn’t actually need to wear a suit and tie. The real reason for the meeting was so that we could initiate and haze all the new employees who had joined LinkExchange in the past month.
So once a month, all the newly hired employees would show up to the office dressed up in suits and ties. There they would realise that they were the target of the companywide practical joke. In the afternoon meeting, all the new hires would be called up to the front of the room to complete some sort of embarrassing task.
After an investment by Sequoia Capital, we asked Sequoia partner and our new board member Michael Moritz to attend our initiation meeting, and we called him up to the front of the room along with the other six employees who had been hired in the past month.
After each person introduced himself, we let them know that in honour of Moritz’s presence, we decided that we wanted everyone to move together in unison to the music that was about to be played.
If you’ve ever read anything in the media about Moritz, he’s generally portrayed as an intelligent, introspective, and proper British journalist-turned-venture-capitalist, so everyone was excited to see that he was willing to stand in front of the room with the other new employees. Someone brought out a boom box and turned on the power as everyone started clapping and cheering. And then music started playing. It was the Macarena.
I don’t think that words can every truly describe what watching Moritz being forced to do the Macarena was like. It ranks up there as one of the strangest sights to behold. Everyone in the entire room was cheering and laughing, and by the end of the song I had tears streaming down my face from laughing so hard.
I remember looking around the room at all the happy faces and thinking to myself, I can’t believe this is real.