From Window Magazine: 'Back from the Brink'
“Ultimately, to be successful, you have to see an opportunity that no one else sees, then muster the courage and determination to pursue it,” says Chase Franklin, this year’s Distinguished Alumnus from the College of Business and Economics. Photo by Rachel Bayne | For Window Magazine
Chase Franklin (‘86 Economics/Mathematics) knows what it’s like to face catastrophic collapse. His Seattle-based dot-com software company Qpass was poised to go public in 2000 when the bottom fell out of the market. With $25 million in the bank, Qpass had just enough to pay its 200 employees for six months. Franklin quickly realized he needed to make some swift and difficult decisions.
So Franklin, a Microsoft alum who founded Qpass in 1997, made some brash moves to reposition and restart the company. In a software company, people represent the lion’s share of operating expense. So almost overnight, the company took steps to lay off two-thirds of its employees, released all of its customers, and began the difficult process of changing direction – all while maintaining the full support and confidence of the company’s investors. Qpass went from selling e-commerce services to more than 100 Internet sites to selling a similar product for a much smaller group of wireless carriers.
The move focused the company on a more viable market and positioned it to be sold for more than $300 million in 2006, which at the time was the third-largest acquisition of a privately-held, venture-backed technology company in Washington state.
Not bad for a company that was on the brink of failure just a few years earlier.
Window Magazine caught up with Franklin, who has been working with entrepreneurs for years, to ask him some secrets to start-up success.