This story starts last fall. A very early morning last September, after a whole night of climbing, looking at the sunrise on top of Africa - Mt Kilimanjaro. Tamar (my wife) and I were not only enjoying the summit, but on such a clear day, we could see in the distance, the vast plain of the Serengeti at our feet, and with it the calling of all the potential adventures Africa has to offer. (see exhibit #1 - Tamar and I on Kili).
And Tamar out of the blue said "Hey, why don't we just keep on going". Let's explore Africa, and then turn east to make our way to India, it's just next door, and we're here already. Then, we keep going; the Himalayas, Everest, go to Bali, the Great Barrier Reef... Antarctica, let's go see Antarctica!?" Little did she know, she was tempting fate.
I remember telling Tamar a typical prudent CFO type response- I would love to keep going, but we have to go back. It's not time yet, There is still so much to do at Google, with my career, so many people counting on me/us - Boards, Non Profits, etc
But then she asked the killer question: So when is it going to be time? Our time? My time? The questions just hung there in the cold morning African air.
A few weeks later, I was happy back at work, but could not shake away THE question: When is it time for us to just keep going? And so began a reflection on my/our life. Through numerous hours of cycling last fall (my introvert happy place) I concluded on a few simple and self-evident truths:
First, The kids are gone. Two are in college, one graduated and in a start-up in Africa. Beautiful young adults we are very proud of. Tamar honestly deserves most of the credit here. She has done a marvelous job. Simply marvelous. But the reality is that for Tamar and I, there will be no more Cheerios encrusted minivan, night watch because of ear infections, ice hockey rinks at 6:00am. Nobody is waiting for us/needing us.
Second, I am completing this summer 25-30 years of nearly non-stop work (depending on how you wish to cut the data). And being member of FWIO, the noble Fraternity of Worldwide Insecure Over-achievers, it has been a whirlwind of truly amazing experiences. But as I count it now, it has also been a frenetic pace for about 1500 weeks now. Always on - even when I was not supposed to be. Especially when I was not supposed to be. And am guilty as charged - I love my job (still do), my colleagues, my friends, the opportunities to lead and change the world.
Third, this summer, Tamar and I will be celebrating our 25th anniversary. When our kids are asked by their friends about the success of the longevity of our marriage, they simply joke that Tamar and I have spent so little time together that "it's really too early to tell" if our marriage will in fact succeed.
If they could only know how many great memories we already have together. How many will you say? How long do you have? But one thing is for sure, I want more. And she deserves more. Lots more.
Allow me to spare you the rest of the truths. But the short answer is simply that I could not find a good argument to tell Tamar we should wait any longer for us to grab our backpacks and hit the road - celebrate our last 25 years together by turning the page and enjoy a perfectly fine mid life crisis full of bliss and beauty, and leave the door open to serendipity for our next leadership opportunities, once our long list of travels and adventures is exhausted.
Working at Google is a privilege, nothing less. I have worked with the best of the best, and know that I am leaving Google in great hands. I have made so many friends at Google it's not funny. Larry, Sergey, Eric, thank you for friendship. I am forever grateful for letting me be me, for your trust, your warmth, your support, and for so much laughter through good and not so good times.
To be clear, I am still here. I wish to transition over the coming months but only after we have found a new Googley CFO and help him/her through an orderly transition, which will take some time.
In the end, life is wonderful, but nonetheless a series of trade offs, especially between business/professional endeavours and family/community. And thankfully, I feel I’m at a point in my life where I no longer have to have to make such tough choices anymore. And for that I am truly grateful. Carpe Diem.
- Harvard University
Benjamin Tseng is the Vice President of Product and Business Development for Yik Yak, a venture-backed startup building anonymous, hyperlocal communities for mobile devices.
Prior to Yik Yak, Benjamin was a Vice President at DCM, a leading venture capital fund managing over $2.5 billion in assets, where he was responsible for sourcing and conducting due diligence on new investment opportunities as well as assisting on financing, operational, and strategic matters for DCM’s portfolio companies. His focus areas included infrastructure technology, connected device platforms, and new models for healthcare and he worked actively with management teams at a number of DCM portfolio companies, including Whistle, Yik Yak, FreedomPop, Arrayent, Enovix, Cognitive Networks, 1Mainstream, Augmedix, Athos, Stride Health, and Rayvio.
Prior to DCM, Benjamin was a Senior Associate Consultant with management consulting firm Bain & Company based in the Bay Area where he worked with a number of Fortune 500 semiconductor and eCommerce clients evaluating new markets, strategies, and acquisitions.
Benjamin graduated Phi Beta Kappa with highest honors in Biochemical Sciences and a minor in Mathematical Sciences from Harvard University where his studies focused on understanding complex biological systems using a combination of mathematical and experimental approaches.
Benjamin is also a mentor for the Thiel “20 Under 20″ Fellowship as well as an advisor to a number of startups including Dextro, Iris, and Bayes Impact, an avid comic book fan, a “Fandroid”, a (very) amateur coder, a blogger, and a very obsessive Feedly user.
- Yik YakVice President Product and Business Development, 2014 - present
- DCMVice President, 2010 - 2014
- RocheResearch Intern, 2005 - 2005
- Bain & CompanySenior Associate Consultant, 2007 - 2010