Andy Palmer
Andy Palmer
Co-founder & Chairperson
February 28, 2024

Next Chapter: Reflections on Andy Palmer's Journey as Founder, CEO and Investor

Next Chapter: Reflections on Andy Palmer's Journey as Founder, CEO and Investor

Professional Development is a priority at Tamr and key for all great early stage companies.

I believe deeply in professional development. As a founder, investor or BOD member in more than 120 startups over the past 30+ years at Koa, I’ve found that professional development is a core component of great startup culture and have worked hard to practice proactive and highly individualized professional development at many startups. If you are curious about specifics, in my recent book "Live for a Living" my co-author Paula Caligiuri, PhD and I discuss many of the key principles and some of my thoughts/highlights based on recent experiences are below. I’ve also blogged about similar topics in the past here.

At Tamr I work hard to practice what I preach and consider the professional development of myself and my colleagues a crucial part of my own and every Tamr’s job each day. This is especially true of my co-founders Alex Pagan, Daniel Bruckner, George Beskales and Ihab Ilyas. Each of them has experienced rapid, non-incremental professional growth both inside and outside of Tamr in the past 10 years. Our mutual commitment to professional development is one of the things that makes the culture at Tamr special. 

In this context I’ve been thrilled by the remarkable professional growth of my trusted colleague Anthony Deighton and his resulting promotion to CEO @ Tamr.  As part of this promotion Anthony will join Rich Miner, Niloofar Razi Howe, Marc Brown, Peter Barris and me on the Tamr board of directors.  

I’ve known Anthony for close to 2 decades - we spent years talking about work, tech, family and personal stuff before he joined Tamr in 2020 in the middle of Covid. Since June of 2020 Anthony has been an invaluable member of the Tamr leadership team and is the ideal person to lead us through our next phase of growth. I’m still amazed at how Anthony was able to come up to speed mid-Covid without any face-to-face contact with Tamrs until 6+ months after his start.  

As anyone who has worked with me will remember, I describe the the job of the CEO at a venture-backed technology company as boiling down to three key responsibilities:

1. Attract and retain the best talent possible. (hire and retain the best people)

2. Protect the interest of shareholders - especially common shareholders. (minimize dilution)

3. Inspire Tamrs, customers and partners as we pursue our mission & vision. (lead with mission)

I know it seems overly simplistic - but all other activities that CEO’s at these startups fall into one of these three buckets.

Anthony has demonstrated an ability to do all three of these effectively and I’m confident that his leadership as CEO will take Tamr to the next level and far beyond what I could do myself.  

I believe the one real retention muscle that startups can develop is their unconditional commitment to the professional development of their people. IMHO if the best talent can get paid more money working at any big company (which the best people always can) - the primary reason they might stay at your startup is that they believe their manager and the company is more committed to their individual professional development than a manager might be at a big company. Of course you want people to stay because they are inspired by the company's mission (and the relevance to them as an individual) and their connection to their co-workers - but the commitment of the company and their manager to their individual professional development can be the strongest muscle to retain the best talent. 

At startups if you can create a culture of commitment to individual professional development an individual will measure the potential of a new gig relative to the individualized professional development that they will get at their current startup. The goal of every manager at your company should be to understand each individual’s interests (and if they are unsure help them explore potential interests) and match their interests with opportunities at the company to exercise their interests through their work. 

In many ways Anthony's promotion is a reflection of this commitment and is a formalization of the role that Anthony has already been playing for a long time at Tamr. Over the past 3 years We have deliberately and gradually transitioned responsibilities to Anthony as he has demonstrated an ability to handle more at every stage in his own growth and in Tamr’s nonlinear evolution. Succession is always very hard and prone to failure - so I’m thrilled that we’ve taken the time to do it right and are now at the right time for Anthony’s next tour of duty at Tamr (and subsequently my new tour of duty as Executive Chairman). The process that Anthony and I have been through over the past three years - from his original recruitment to his ownership of various areas of Tamr’s business to his new role as CEO and BOD member - is intended to be a role model for how we believe professional development is best accomplished at Tamr and in general at early stage companies. As Anthony and I were working on my succession we specifically we committed to:

  • Lots of introspection and self awareness (not driven by superficial optics or titles)
  • Long-term horizons (not over reactive to short term) - years not quarters or months
  • Thoughtful communication & thorough discussion (no surprises and deep trust)
  • Informal authority granted deliberately over time followed by formal authority (avoid the Peter Principle

I have been serving as Tamr’s CEO/co-founder for 10+ years - the longest (by 2X) and most rewarding tour of duty in my startup focused career. As a Co-Founder at Tamr along with my trusted partners Daniel Bruckner, Alex Pagan, Mike Stonebraker, George Beskales, and Ihab Ilyas I’m deeply proud of the:

  • Amazing team we’ve built @ Tamr
  • Value we are creating for our customers
  • Leadership we are providing in the industry to shape the future of data products that enable our customers to realize the value of data in their businesses

But most important to me over the past 10 years has been the professional development of so many Tamrs and Tamr Alumni. I am truly honored to have the opportunity to work with so many incredibly talented human beings and honored that so many of them trusted me to work with them as they developed their skills and character in the interest of continuous professional improvement. As I begin my next tour of duty as Tamr’s Executive Chairman - I’m excited that I’ll have the opportunity to continue to work closely with so many great current and future Tamrs as they follow in Anthony’s footsteps of individual and collective professional development.