Ken Lang, 34, founder and CEO of 100X Inc., a Waltham, Massachusetts-based Internet incubator with five portfolio companies, including Buzzpad Inc. and Fitplay.com. 100X has raised $10 million since it was started a year ago.
What's your problem?
"Everyone complains about IT talent shortages and high turnover in Silicon Valley. It's an environment in which people are given tons of amazing opportunities. So people work on a project, that project becomes successful to the point where it's in a different phase of its life cycle, and then they move on."
Tell me about it.
"The business structures of most companies out there today don't meet the needs of a certain class of people: technocowboys who join an existing company and find themselves stifled by bureaucracy, and rising stars who get frustrated by the inability of a big company to move nimbly. These people are predisposed to change jobs."
What's your solution?
"I call it 'passion management.' We encourage our portfolio companies to poach our talent and vice versa. People can switch jobs without affecting their pay scale or their benefits. This policy applies to everyone at 100X, at all different levels. We work with them to provide an in-house, real-world training opportunity.
"It's about letting people develop new skill sets, learn from other people in different areas, and become well-rounded entrepreneurs. People can work on a project and get it off the ground, and then jump to the next company in our portfolio to help get a new product started. Or they can stay with the original company but in a completely different capacity. Of course, we don't force people to change jobs. If you're the CTO at one company and you're doing great, then stay with that."
Contact Ken Lang by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or learn more about 100X Inc. on the Web (www.100x.com).
A version of this article appeared in the January 2001 issue of Fast Company magazine.