What Is It Like to Recruit for 'The Genius'? Response to a Journalistic 'Hatchet Job'

An article well worth reading for any technical recruiter, involved with VC funded startups and high-tech inventors!  


It’s a very interesting article, but it begs a lot of questions. I’ve met Mike, and worked as a Recruiter for him, to identify a Chief Chemical Engineer for CoolPlanet. Mike was ultra-demanding in his requirements, but I finally managed to find someone local, after spending about six months looking all across the USA for candidates. Mike made several claims at our meeting (like “my company’s stock is going to be very valuable, because Google Ventures invested in us, and their stock is over $500 per share”), which seemed dubious. Nonetheless, he continued to repeat them, even though it doesn’t take brilliance to see that CoolPlanet was only one of several dozen companies that Google invested in that year.

So, I had to be somewhat skeptical from the start, and from what I’ve learned in the past year, Google does a really, really poor job on “due diligence” (at least more than once). However, despite being rather difficult to work with, I still managed to put together a placement for him, with an outstanding candidate. I worked more with Mike Rocke and Mike’s wife than with Mike himself. Mike Cheiky may indeed be someone who arouses suspicions because of odd behavior, but he is amazingly good at getting new companies started and off the ground. Almost nobody else can do that. It’s exceedingly rare. That talent for entrepreneurship is remarkable, and something that everyone would envy.    

Much of the criticism in the article centers on Mike Cheiky's lack of a PhD, but the author seems unaware that Edison, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates,Srinivasan Ramanujan, William Herschel and Michael Faraday all lacked formal 4-year college degrees.  Even Saul Kripke, widely considered to be the most brilliant philosopher in the world today, does not have a PhD.  Citing Cheiky's lack of a PhD does not justify calling his science 'shoddy'... if in fact it is shoddy, the VCs should have figured that out about 30 years ago

Edison himself had ethical issues, and quashed a great deal of Nikola Tesla’s work (and invented the electric chair, etc) so inventors are clearly not saints. I think the article is more of a ‘hatchet job’ than an impartial examination. Perhaps the attention should be redirected at Venture Capitalists and their apparent gullibility. How could any VC actually justify investing in this man’s company, if all that is claimed in the article is true? Let alone dozens, and to the tune of hundred of millions of dollars.

In other words, I hear the negatives, and I see that there is some truth in them, but the whole picture itself
doesn’t quite add up. I can’t believe that so many top-tier VCs would fail to dig up the ‘other side’ of Mike Cheiky if it were altogether true. I’ve been a recruiter for 25 years, and worked with quite a few serial entrepreneurs and their companies, but Mike Cheiky is unique. I would say that if he is in the business of fooling venture capitalists, then maybe that, in itself, is worth doing just to prove the point that it can be so easily done.

What the Hell?  His money is good, and shouldn't entrepreneurs dream big dreams?  Shouldn't the VCs do a better job of 'due diligence'?  Shouldn't reporters try to get their facts straight?

"My father would womanize, he would drink. He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy. The sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament." -- "Doctor Evil" in "Austin Powers"

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