There is a surreal exercise almost every venture-backed founder/CEO goes through at some point along the journey. Writing your own offer letter.
Imagine filling in the following Mad Libs at 22-years-old:
Dear Alexander White, we are pleased to offer you position as CEO of Next Big Sound. Your compensation will be ______ and you have ______ days of PTO per year. Sincerely, Alexander White.
That was me, writing and signing my own offer letter in the Fall of 2009 right after our Seed financing. I remember working with Mike Platt and our law firm, Cooley LLP, on the offer letter template (which we then submitted for board approval).
The idea of getting a salary to work on Next Big Sound was incredibly foreign to me and almost felt like cheating. Especially after the previous year where NBS had only raised $40k total. You mean I will get paid, have equity upside, and get to work on our company?!
It wasn’t until a year or two later that we finally put offer letters in our own NBS letterhead. Offer letters seemed like really serious legal documents at the time and we were afraid of tampering with them at all.
One thing we never got to do was rewrite the offer letters in plain English. We’d still have needed our attorney and PEO to sign off on it but I think it would have set a great tone for new employees and been another touch point of our culture and what’s important to the business. Conveying all the critical legal language while still making it feel like a Next Big Sound experience.
I’d be curious to know if anyone has done this?