Tag Archives: ceo

What next for Klaus Nyengaard?

DING-DONG – It’s been a while since I’ve posted last time, so here’s an update. My plan in February was to do research on a couple of project ideas I had, and then to talk to all kinds of people to see where exciting things happened, especially in Denmark and London. The plan was also to move not too fast, since it is easy to become enthusiastic and commit to all kinds of interesting ventures, and then suddenly be fully booked up. And now, I have partly fallen into that trap – but for good reasons!

What is it I want? The stuff that motivates me the very most, is to do great things with great teams. Everything flows from the people on the team, and if it is great people working together in the right, high-performance, entrepreneurial fun-loving way, then amazing things can happen. From these kind of teams flows great products, happy customers and oodles of respect from investors & partners. And that again attracts even more good people, and if the leadership continues to step up, then Nirvana can be maintained for a very long time. That is awesome to be part of, can’t get enough of it.

Many people with my background do one of two things:

  1. Become a classic investor, building a large portfolio of angel- or VC investments. That is very exciting, and you get to help all kinds of entrepreneurs, but my issue is that I don’t think I’m ready for such a passive role. Any investor would say that they “add value hands-on”, etc., but the truth is that with a portfolio of 15-20 investments and spending most of the time chasing new deals, then they are not really close to the action (and typically doesn’t have any real, hands-on experience related to your challenges, but that’s another story). And I don’t like being distanced to what I’m doing, and the people involved.
  2. Become a CEO for a big company. Well, first of all, there are not really that many companies based in Copenhagen where it makes sense for me to get involved full time as CEO, and I’m not interested in moving my family to another country for a long period of time. Secondly, the reason why I enjoyed running JUST EAT even though it was a 1,000-man company was that I had been there from when it was a small 35-man Danish company, so I had directly or indirectly hired almost every single manager in the company, and I had skewed the company culture exactly in the direction that I felt was right for the company – and me! Chances are, that if I got on board another company that was already big, then I wouldn’t be a great fit for the culture and all kinds of “culture wars” would have to take place (had enough of that in the initial phase, when I joined JUST EAT five years ago). Thirdly, working for one company only would not leverage all the knowledge I have today about leading, developing, internationalizing and scaling companies. That is a skill set that is still a scarce resource in Europe, so I might as well leverage it across several companies.

So, the sweet spot for me seems to be working with a handful of companies in a more integrated, intimate way. Obvious choice. So, that is what I have chosen to go for the last few months. To be more specific, I will spend most of my time the next many years being chairman for companies that are still small compared to their overall potential, and where 1) I believe in the team (“Entreprofessionals”), 2) there is a great chemistry fit with me and the team, and 3) good fit between me and the challenges in the coming years. Geographically my focus is Denmark and UK/London, but I might still do a bit in other places. And I will also be doing a little bit of angel investments with a hands-off approach, but it will be limited with clear expectation management around my involvement.

So far, I have started working with 3-4 teams, mostly companies with a clear focus on a specific vertical, and dominated by SME’s that are under utilizing technology. One company I’m co-founding and will spend a very big part of my time on, for the others I will be an active chairman. None has been announced yet, but it will happen in the coming months. All very exciting, especially the project where a team has found a way to integrate 3D pizza printing, crowd sourced drone swarms and big data customer analysis with a social CSR twist – that will change the world as we know it!

I’m stopping as JUST EAT CEO

Yep, I am stepping down as JUST EAT CEO!

History

When I joined JUST EAT in March nearly 5 years ago, the original plan was to take one year at a time. I had never been involved in anything for 5 years, and thinking 5 years ahead seemed impossible, so one year at a time seemed to be the sensible thing. By August 2008 I had moved to London with my family, and very soon after that I 1) fell in love with the company and 2) realised that JUST EAT could become much bigger than anyone could imagine. I knew it would still be one year at a time, but I also knew that it could be a long and very interesting journey.

In the beginning of 2008 JUST EAT was still a fairly small company, but it had build a very solid business in Denmark that earned money, 90% of our revenues were in Denmark. We decided to make UK the core market for us, and then launch in other markets as much as we could given the UK priority.

Then the rocket really started. For me, the inflexion point was summer-autumn 2009. In spring/summer 2009 we negotiated and finally closed our series A round with Index as a lead, and in the autumn we did the first TV campaign in UK which together with solid restaurant growth and a lot of other activities saw the orders go through the roof.

In those 5 years, the company went from being a 35-man Danish company that was one of several companies in the online takeaway ordering space to becoming the world leader with 1,000 employees. Very few world leaders have roots in Europe, so everybody who contributed should be happy. And it is not at all the end for JUST EAT – more about that later.

Why and why now

Once every quarter my wife has asked me to stop working for JUST EAT. We moved back home to Denmark nearly 2 years ago, and since then I have travelled more than 3 days a week, a lot to London obviously, but also to many other countries. And that is tough when you have a family with small kids. You can do that for only so long – and I planned to do it for a bit longer despite a bit of home front scepticism.

But, that is not really good enough from the company’s perspective, I have to accept that. A company such as JUST EAT, with it’s ambitious plans and momentum needs a CEO who is committed for many more years, and it “might” also be a good idea to have a person who is more often in London where we have most of the central functions, the Group exec team, etc. So before the “next phase” of the company it makes sense to get a new CEO on board, it is not healthy to change the leader when crossing a river, it has to happen well before that.

Ideally I would have staid a bit longer, but there is a logic that I can’t argue against. Tough for me, right for the company.

The future of JUST EAT

Regarding the future of JUST EAT, there is only one thing to say: it will be awesome. There are so many things happening in the company, so much momentum and so many good people that it can only be better. Some of the areas where I am particularly excited is what we will do the next 6-12 months on the technology side. Also, the continuous improvements of all the small details of sales, marketing and operations are happening all the time. Customers and restaurants can look forward to a lot of good stuff.

Thanks

So, it is time to say thanks to everybody who helped move the company forward. I don’t want to mention any specific JUST EAT’ers, each of you know how much you have contributed, and there are so many of you. Also thanks to restaurants and consumers, investors, advisers, partners and friends. You all deserve a slice of the success.

The JUST EAT journey will continue – and I will quietly follow it from the distance, but start on another journey my self. What that will be I don’t know for sure (a few ideas though, and let me know if you have any as well …) – it will be something with good people and growth for sure.

Yehaa!

UPDATE

Here is the internal, amateur goodbye video I made to all my great colleagues. If you don’t understand the quirkiness, then join the company and you will get it -;) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHTyvUkfAXo

Press release on Klaus Nyengaard leaving JUST EAT

Klaus Nyengaard steps down as CEO for JUST EAT Group

London based JUST EAT, the world’s largest online takeaway ordering service, today announced that after nearly five years as CEO, Klaus Nyengaard is leaving the Company.

Commenting on his departure, Klaus Nyengaard said “I have loved my time working at JUST EAT and believe it is a great company with an exciting future. However, I made a commitment to return to Denmark with my family nearly two years ago. Since then I have been commuting between Denmark and London, which was ultimately not the perfect solution for the Company or me. Of all the achievements at JUST EAT, I am most proud of helping to build a world class team and will greatly miss the daily contact with colleagues and friends at JUST EAT.”

In the last five years JUST EAT has grown from 35 employees based mostly in Denmark to over 1,000 employees with operations in 13 countries. In 2012 the Company was profitable and is now generating over €750m in food orders for its restaurant partners.Commenting on Klaus’s departure Ben Holmes, partner at Index Ventures and long–time JUST EAT investor & board member said “I would like to thank and congratulate Klaus for all he achieved during his tenure at JUST EAT. His vision and energy were key motivations for our initial and subsequent investments in the Company and he has delivered on that vision to make JUST EAT a European ecommerce champion. We wish him the best for the future and look forward to his next venture. ”

The existing executive team led by Chairman John Hughes will run the company while a search is conducted for a new CEO.

Out of office x-mas email reply from Mr Sizzle

Wanted to share this one from my dear colleague and Chief Sizzle Officer, Mat Braddy, his “out of office” email reply the next couple of weeks:

Mat is off in Lapland persuading Father Christmas to delivery Reindeer
curry after he finishes with silly toys. Mother Christmas kills, skins
and then cooks the old knackered animals every year anyway. They need
to sweat their assets and expand into new markets – JUST EAT is
ideally placed to help.

Mat will return Jan 7th 2013 with the launch of Eat-Elf.com to follow
soon after…

Mat, have a nice, long holiday, you have deserved it!

Reindeer

JUST EAT World Party 2012

The biggest event of the year in JUST EAT is without any comparison our annual World Party. The event was first tested some years ago and has since changed a lot as our company has changed, but one thing has always been at the centre of the concept: fun and socialising. And for sure, that was also at the centre stage of the World Party we had last week at a venue outside of London.

AllColleaguesWP2012

There is no need to spend a lot of words on the event, I will instead try to capture part of the atmosphere with a series of pictures, enjoy – we did. But if you only have 8 minutes available, then go straight to this heavily cut down video of traditional JUST EAT Got Talent Show, it was a lot more fun than what you can see here, but it might give some feeling for the evening: JUST EAT 2012 Got Talent Show

(NB: there are also hundreds of pictures on facebook page following the event if you can access the FB group).

Nearly 400 people from all over the World came to Berkshire, UK, ready to get started all dressed in fashionable JUST EAT t-shirts:

28May2012 005

First a presentation on what is going on overall with the company, people came to have fun, so we spend less than an hour on that, here I am showing some creative sizzle the marketing guys has dreamed up:

KNpresentWP12

We quickly moved on to the team events, we like to do competitions, so everybody were send out with their teams to solve all kinds of   missions, here some of the teams:

WP2012teamevent1

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Some people (the Celts) took it all more relaxed:

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And others put in an effort and won:

WP2012winnerteam

Then we “nearly all” did Little Fish, Big Fish, that was pretty hilarious, but we didn’t get the World Record for most people dancing in sync because 100 people decided it was better to sit outside and enjoy the 25c with a cold beer (grrrr …):

BigFishDanceWP2012

But then our very own Mr Beat Box got the Jam back:

MrBeatBoxWP2012

We also tried to see if we could get some other official Guinness Books of World Records, and we succeeded (not sure how long those very important records will last, but we made it!). One record was in keeping as many balloons as possible flying for 1 minute:

BalloonGuiness

And one in undressing 10 t-shirts as quickly as possible, another very important and high profile sport:

Tshirtwinner

Last couple of years we have given each country a cottage, where they could serve delicacies from their home countries of both solid and liquid nature, this year we gave each country a tent, and combined with fantastic weather (25c in the UK in May is not that common!) people’s mood quickly went from great to stellar, some examples:

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IEtent

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BRtent

EStent

TechWP2012

NLtent

And then the highlight of the evening, the JUST EAT 2012 Got Talent Show (check link for video). First the intro with Ras on Sax and some big pretender:

TalentIntroWP2012

UK marketing doing Bollywood dancing:

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Brazilian samba:

BRsamba

Who says Finance can’t dance:

FinancedanceWP2012

UK Sales doing the Haka:

UKHageWP2012

And several others, but the winners were – the Danes singing about how they are treated as cash cows, hmm think about that for a second:

TeamCowWP2012

We also had the traditional JUST EAT Awards for best of this and that (congrats to Spain, Norway, UK, Switzerland and Sebastien), and Mr. Buttress got a kiss and a piggy bank:

PiggyWinnerWP2012

And after that no more team building or award ceremonies, JUST PARTY:

HappyESWP2012

MarketingEnthusiasmWP2012

WP2012dance2

Thanks to all JUST EAT’ers for a great World Party – see you all plus a lot more again next year.

NB: special thanks to Leah, Mike and Anne for getting everything organised so briliantly, especially the weather really impressed me.

Just-Eat launched on the Moon

I am so happy to announce that Just-Eat as the first internet company in the world has officially landed on the Moon. It has been a massive project to get the rocket build and all systems integrated into our API’s, and there has been a few errors and fatal casualties along the way, but we are all proud of what we now have achieved.

Here is one of the front pages covering the story – the astrounat is Rasmus. He is also the first to play the sax on the moon, but that is irrelevant for this story.

Feb2012 125

We would like to express our gratitude to our investors (yes, $4 bn is a lot of money, but how many VC’s have invested in a truly cloud penetrating company?), NASA for lending a first stage rocket (ok maybe not lending, but thanks anyway, you can get it back if you go to Latitude 2.460181, Longitude -157.500000) the Chinese for hacking into Boeing Systems and sharing with us and finally to the aliens of Planet X34Masala for transporting our slightly defunct spaceship most of the way.

What can we do with this experience, where will this take us? Mars is the obvious next frontier, but we are thinking bigger than that. There is a whole galaxy out there, Just-Eat will go universal. Come and join the first galactic internet company in our interstellar conquest. Everyone should be part of the revolution, don’t cook, just-eat is our banner.

NB: we are looking for restaurant entrepreneurs that want to set up shop on the Moon. Underlying demand right now is fairly low (the international space station is not far away, and they do like a good dim-sum), but if you are building your business for the long term, and enjoy space suits and lonely nights then this is a must. Real estate prices are low, and delivery scooters goes really-really fast.

New Chairman for the Just-Eat Group

Since I joined Just-Eat in the spring of 2008, I have been not only CEO, but also chairman. That is not the right structure for a company, and I have been wanting to change the set-up for a while, but it is not easy to find the right chairman for a company like ours. In the first couple of years it was not urgent to change, but since we did our series B round beginning of 2011, it has become an absolutely must. Luckily, after a very long search period we have finally found our new chairman!

It is with great pleasure that John Hughes going forward will take an active lead of our board (official press release of John Hughes joining Just-Eat is here). It is a relief for me, that I have a wing-man of that calibre, who will take charge of a big chunk of the overall governance of the company, which frees most of my time up to focus on running the company together with the Just-Eat the team. And it is also a great support for me, that I can lean on John’s experience when handling some of the strategic issues we constantly are dealing with in our fast paced company.

Just-Eat is constantly growing, in only a few days we can e.g. say that we have partnered with the clear leader in a major European market. All this growth is exciting, but it also adds complexity, and as we add more and more investors/owners to our company, then what is called “corporate governance” with a fine word becomes important.

John not only knows from own experience how governance works, but he also adds a lot of hands-on executive/operational experience from running mid-sized as well as really big tech companies; and he also has a great strategic mindset.

John will be an important asset for our company going forward, and it’s going to be great to team up with him as we develop our company the coming years.

Welcome on board John!