Onward and Upward, Vittana!

What an adventure, guys.

And like the best adventures, sometimes you have to be bold. I’m announcing today that I’m stepping down as the CEO of Vittana.

I’m moving upstairs and becoming Co-Chairman of Vittana’s Board of Directors. The reason? It’s simple. Given Vittana’s growth and impact, it’s time for a new generation of leadership. My commitment to Vittana hasn’t changed — I’ll still be very involved, albeit in a slightly different role.

It’s been an incredible few years —

Five years ago, the idea that you could actually invest in education was crazy. We did our homework and pioneered the Vittana Loan — a $750 student micro-loan that can triple a girl’s earning power.

Vittana is now a multi-million dollar organization that’ll reach tens of thousands of youth this year. Every month, 1,000+ youth escape poverty because of Vittana. They are strong, inspiring.

Folks have taken notice. Vittana’s impact is regularly highlighted in world press. We’ve been backed by legendary people and institutions like Vinod Khosla, Rich Barton and Google.

Janice Macalisang – an amazing, inspiring Vittana student in the Philippines
Janice Macalisang – an amazing, inspiring Vittana student in the Philippines

And some extra fodder for your imagination —

How long does it take to raise $100,000?

It took 304 days to raise our first $100,000. But, then…

We had our first $100,000 month in January 2012. Our first $100,000 week? Last week of July 2012. First $100,000 day? December 13, 2012.

Yowza.

But here’s the thing —

My gift is product. Whether it’s a website, a personalization engine or a student micro-loan, creating good products is basically the same. Fundamentally, it comes down to one thing: finding the sweet spot of what’s useful and what’s buildable.

With Vittana’s fundamental product scaling at hyper-growth rates, what we now need is someone who thinks about things like organizational development and efficient processes. And, if I were being really honest with myself, that’s not me today. I feel it’s really important for leaders to understand their strengths and limitations.

I’m absolutely, heart-burstingly proud of everything we — the core team, our local partners, our global network of friends and supporters — have achieved over the past five years. But, it’s time for someone new to lead Vittana to the next level.

We’ve brought on Rebecca Lovell, former Executive Director of Northwest Entrepreneur Network and Chief Business Officer of GeekWire, as Interim CEO to prepare the team for the next stage of growth. She’s a seasoned, entrepreneurial non-profit executive and I’m very excited for what she’ll bring to Vittana.

To round out the leadership team, we’ve also added two great new hires: Megan Beck as Development VP and Nick Merriam as Operations Director. Finally, we’ve begun a nation-wide search for Vittana’s long-term CEO, which I’ll help lead.

I’m feeling really good about where Vittana is today and where we’re going. The past five years have been amazing — the next five will be epic. We’re positioned to help tens of thousands of youth this year, prove you can sustainably invest in education and lay the foundations for even greater growth. I’m genuinely excited for Vittana’s next chapter and I feel lucky to be a small part of it.

This hasn’t been an easy decision. Even in the past couple days, the faith, generosity and support the community has shown me has blown me away. While it’s always bittersweet to say goodbye, I know this is the right thing for me and most importantly Vittana.

As for me, what’s next? —

Well, maybe I’ll sleep a bit more. 😉 After five years of 100-hour weeks and countless sacrifices (just ask the ex-girlfriends), I’m going to let my body, brain and heart rest for a bit.

Team Vittana rolling deep at last night's GeekWire bash
Team Vittana rolling deep at last night’s GeekWire bash
I'm going to regret this, aren't I? Rebecca, this is totally, completely your fault :)
I’m going to regret this, aren’t I? Rebecca— this is totally on you…

23 thoughts on “Onward and Upward, Vittana!

  1. Sorry I missed you last night. I was wondering if there was something up when I saw Rebecca wearing the Vittana shirt.

    Best of luck in your next ventures (sleep and whatever comes after :))

  2. On top of all the good you’ve helped create in this world, I deeply admire the self awareness, candor and courage, Kushal. You continue to inspire me personally and the impact of your thinking has broadened Kiva’s pursuit of impact. Glad Vittana and Kiva are finally partnered to do more good, faster. And btw, the Vittana UX / product experience is awesome (including the voice of system emails, etc) — you guys inspire us to push for something better on the consumer facing site. With this new role and hopefully more time for being a Product Visionary at Vittana, I’m excited to keep checking the Vittana site for ideas you have re: building engagement & impact. The world is better when you are able to be bold. Thanks and drop me a line when you’re in SF — would be good to hang out.

  3. Congrats on creating a company that is changing the world for the better and having the maturity to want it to be bigger even if that means you play a different role!

  4. Congrats on all you’ve achieved Kushal – you’ve had a great run, and I have confidence Vittana will live on and continue to impact thousands of lives in the future under new leadership.

  5. Wow, two of my favorite Seattle folks! Exciting news guys. Best wishes to both of you in your respective new roles. I look forward to crossing paths with you both some soon day.

  6. Huge congratulations for what Vittana has achieved, Kushal, and for figuring out how to create your own biggest impact. You’re not stepping down– you’re stepping up, and bringing Vittana with you. Best of luck! — David

  7. congrats, Kushal. the world is better for your truly remarkable social innovation and your authentic nature. thank you for setting an example and inspiring so many. wish you all the best as you explore your new horizons and look forward to learning about your next success.

  8. I agree with all of these wonderful comments Kushal, you deeply inspire. Congratulations on your HUGE success, Vittana is something to be so proud of! You do your fantastic part in making the world a better place and I look forward to following your future endeavors!

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