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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

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.


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