20VC: Four Criteria to Assess Great Founders, Why and How the Best Leaders Make the Wrong Decisions 40% of the Time, Lessons Scaling King from 100 Employees to 2,400 and Making $1BN of EBITDA with Stephane Kurgan, Venture Partner @ Index Ventures

Posted on 28th July 2023 by Harry

Stephane Kurgan is widely considered one of the best operators in Europe. During his tenure as COO @ King, King went from $65m to $2.4B in bookings, from 100 to 2,400 employees, and did a $7B IPO before being acquired by Activision Blizzard. Prior to joining King, Stephane served as CFO of Tideway Ltd. (acquired by BMC Software) and was the co-founder and CEO of Digital Reserve. Today, Stephane serves as a Venture Partner at Index Ventures, one of the leading venture firms of the last decade and more recently as an executive advisor at Technology Crossover Ventures.

In Today’s Episode with Stephane Kurgan We Discuss:

1. From Belgium Boy to Europe’s Leading Operator:

  • How a CD Rom company was the starting place for one of Europe’s best executives?
  • What does Steph believe he is running away from?
  • What does Steph know now that he wishes he had known when he started?

2. Four Criteria of Truly Great Leaders:

  • What four traits do all truly special leaders have?
  • What are the 1-2 that are the hardest to find in great leaders today?
  • Why does Steph believe that even the best leaders are wrong 40% of the time?
  • How does Steph approach decision-making? How has it changed over time?
  • What is the most toxic element of decisions within companies today?
  • When does Steph change plan because a decision is wrong vs stick to it?

3. Speed of Execution and Mission Statements:

  • How important does Steph believe speed of execution is today?
  • What are the elements that one can go fast on vs go slow and be very deliberate on?
  • What elements has Steph gone fast on in the past that led to a mistake? How would he have changed his approach with the benefit of hindsight?
  • Why does Steph believe that mission statements have different value at different company stages?
  • What is Steph’s biggest advice to founders on creating mission statements?

4. Delivering Feedback and Maintaining Trust:

  • What are 1-2 of Steph’s biggest lessons when it comes to delivering feedback well?
  • What are the biggest mistakes founders make when delivering feedback today?
  • Can trust be regained once lost? How?
  • Does Steph start from a position of full trust or is it gained gradually over time?

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