My Lunch with Andy Ory: Acme Packet CEO Talks Startup Lessons, Growing Pains, and Building the Next Great Boston Company

6/29/11Follow @gthuang

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normalizes and mediates complexity to allow for simple delivery of services. Complexity causes people to be unsure of what to do. In that world, the phone companies are unsure of what they sell and what their services are. The equipment manufacturers are unsure of what they’re going to need to sell. The application providers are unsure of what technologies they’re going to use or what people are ultimately going to buy. I think that confusion has acted like a little cloud to keep us hidden. We’ve been allowed to, and continue to want to, grow a great independent business.”

A few more rapid-fire questions for Ory, as we finished our meal:

—On what he looks for in new hires: “Happy people do great things. Unhappy people are just miserable. That’s a big thing I look for in the hiring process. Attitude, aptitude, and are you happy?”

—On advice for entrepreneurs: “A lot of it gets down to a can-do attitude, a tenaciousness, a willingness to do whatever it takes. I remember one time in my first business, I had to paint the conference room one weekend because I wanted to hire a sales guy and I wasn’t well funded, and he was a real sales guy. And he was going to bring his wife up to see the facility, to see whether or not she’d let him take the job. You do whatever it takes.”

—On startup education: “It’s important to understand the market landscape—the technology, the service, the customers. You need to educate yourself somehow. Hitching your wagon to a company that is involved in the industry you want to be involved in, and they need to be entrepreneurial and dynamic, you can really learn a lot. Go right at another startup enterprise, do a great job, work hard, learn, and slingshot out of it and spin out what you want to do.”

—On Microsoft’s $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype: “Microsoft could effect an awful lot of communications without relying too heavily on any type of carrier. I do think Skype as a brand is incredibly valuable to them.”

—On what keeps him up at night: “We’re hiring so many people that the cultural implications get to me. I’m starting to explore that. I’m going to be much more strategic about human resources than I have been in the past. I’m pretty thoughtful about it, but I’m not nearly as strategic as I need to be. I still interview almost every single person that we hire in North America. So that takes a lot of effort, and that’s not scalable.”

—Lastly, what pisses him off: “I think the way we’ve decided to regulate businesses is nuts. It’s really important that successful startup ventures be able to go public. But because of Enron and Andersen Consulting, we have these rules and financial regulations that are so complicated and so onerous, they don’t make for a more transparent business or help an investor figure out ‘is this worthy of putting my money in.’ I think the ethos of the nature of regulation and how it’s being interpreted is actually damaging to enterprises and it also makes our country less competitive. And I think that’s a bad thing.”

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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