SM: You decided to stay with Adobe for a few years after selling them Fotiva, correct?
JH: Initially I got out and I spent a few months looking around for the next smaller thing to do, but the market had dried up so badly there were no B and C round deals going on, and that is the stage I like to get involved with. Bruce (Chizen) kept pushing me to come over and run the creative business in Adobe. They had been looking for someone for months and months.
It was interesting because I went back into a role very similar to the one I had left at Intuit in the sense that I was running a multi-hundred million dollar software business with a successful install base. There was a lot of install base marketing.
It really felt like a true sabbatical, in the sense of what professors do. They go off and study a different topic, and they learn something completely new and they come back to their own area refreshed and with a different perspective. That is how I felt at Adobe. I was in a similar role but had a completely different perspective on the job at that point because the products we were selling and the customers we were selling to were so different. Then I came back to PayCycle, and that again was back to my Intuit roots.
SM: What was different between Intuit and Adobe? They were obviously both small business focused.
JH: I had learned a lot about the VC community by the time went to Adobe. Adobe did a lot of technology acquisition deals, including the one I was involved with. Having been acquired by Adobe, it was easy to see what worked and what did not work when I was trying to acquire technology from inside.
SM: Did you do many acquisitions?
JH: Adobe did, but I did not do any in my group. I was, however, involved with several. It was great to see what was happening from both sides. I think I also had a better sense of the financing world, and I watched as the Telecom market cratered. I missed the dotcom bust, but I saw the Telecom bust. One week there were massive investments, and the next week things imploded. It gives different perspectives. I was more attuned to the financial markets and how the technology companies were playing into these financial markets. Increasingly, they were becoming less about culmination of technology and more about business success. The business success was not a function of having the latest and coolest technology.