In an attempt to set the tone for a new, restructured, and a hopefully one day resurrected Fab, CEO Jason Goldberg has sent around a memo that is less rally-the-troops and more "you're lucky to be here." Titled "It's a fucking startup. Why are you here?," the note, also posted on his personal website, continues to remind his employees that they could, very realistically, lose their jobs.
"I can say with confidence that Fab will win or lose based on our ability to assemble and manage the right people for right now," he writes. "People always say that it’s all about having the right people. That’s too easy. It’s all about the right people for right now," he continues. In other words, the remaining 300 workers at the design-obsessed retailer aren't the right people for the job, they're just the right people for right now. That's a very encouraging message to send to what is probably a pretty shell-shocked group of people, after seeing 450 of their co-workers get fired over the last year.
Making the entire message more anxiety producing, the note is punctuated with the words "it's a fucking startup" every few paragraphs, reminding people that their lives are hard for some greater moral cause. Although some might equate that cause to the whims of a CEO and his profit margins, as one commenter did on Y Combinator. "Asking me to live and breathe the job is all good but if I'm not getting to share in the rewards the same as you then you're really just asking me to be your slave and make you rich."
But we have to give Goldberg credit for pointing out that all his employees' hard work for a Fab comeback might not ever pay off:
It's been said over and over and over again that startups are hard. True that.
Startup turnarounds? Really fucking hard.
Have you ever been clinging onto a rocket ship, then cut the engines at full speed, and then tried to fly again? That's what we’ve been going through at Fab the past months.
In the history of startups I bet you can count on one hand the number of companies that went from $0 to $1B in valuation in just 2 years and then voluntarily cut their operating expenses by 2/3 and then rose to greatness again. Will Fab be able to do it? We'll see. There are days when I'm certain we will. There are days when I question if we can. I've had VC after VC tell me that they've basically assumed Fab is going to die; for how in the world can a company possibly survive 3 rounds of layoffs and cost cuts as we've had?
See, it's all very encouraging. Even the venture community has lost faith in Fab. But, it's okay, troops: This is a fucking startup. And if the exciting prospect of working for a fast moving upstart that in all likelihood will implode doesn't lift company morale, what will?
[Image: Flickr user Steve Jurvetson]