Mark Lee, co-founder and CEO, Splashtop

Season 2, Episode 26
Oct 27, 08:12 AM

We speak to Mark Lee about the evolution of the Remote Economy, why he truly wanted Splashtop to become a unicorn and why some VCs invested in the company blindly without even a business plan.

In this 19th interview with a unicorn start-up leader, we are joined by Mark Lee, CEO and co-founder of Splashtop.

In 2006, Mark co-founded with Robert Ha, Thomas Deng, and Philip Sheu, three MIT colleagues, DeviceVM, designing and selling the industry's first browser OS that allowed PC users to get online, securely, in less than 5 seconds. That OS product was named Splashtop and, as of 2010, the company pivoted, changing its name to Splashtop and becoming the company it is today: a provider of Remote Access software.

In this episode, Mark highlights the importance of building a reliable team from the ground up and explains the trust relationship he has with those university colleagues he met over three decades ago who are, in large part, the key to the company's success. Several VCs have even demonstrated their blind trust in Mark and his fellows in his entrepreneurial journey, providing funding without even seeing a business plan, based solely on the experience they had working hand in hand with Mark, Robert, Thomas and Philip’s previous startup.

After years of bootstrapping, they decided to seek funding for Splashtop to achieve unicorn status. Not because they needed the money, as the company was generating millions of dollars of cash flow per month, but to position themselves in the market. For them, being a unicorn allowed the company to have greater visibility, attract talent and move towards an IPO. In fact, Mark says they have yet to touch a single dollar from that round.

However, Mark also acknowledges that one of the hardest moments of his career was having to lay off dozens of employees with whom he had close relationships when DeviceVM had to pivot at the start of the past decade.

Our guest also discusses the unstoppable evolution of the Remote Economy with remote becoming the new norm and how the pandemic accelerated the demand for its products by companies of all kinds, but also by educational and medical research institutions, to, among others, combat Covid-19.

The interview, as usual, was co-hosted with Russell Goldsmith of the csuite podcast.

We have distilled the most valuable, actionable insights from our first 15 interviews with leaders of unicorn companies and bottled them in our book ‘Growing without borders: The unicorn CEO guide to communication and culture’. You can download it here.