Board Observer: Addition or Distraction?

by Both Sides of the Table

board observerIs the board observer a helpful addition or simply a distraction? Read one VC’s verdict and his recommendations.

Entrepreneur turned VC Mark Suster of GRP Partners discusses the advantages and drawbacks of the board observer in his blog Both Sides of the Table. While originally “vehemently against board observers,” Suster’s viewpoint has shifted over the past couple of years, and he’s willing to present both sides of the board overserver argument. Since “nothing ever comes up for a formal vote,” Suster says, and “the time spent on discussing issues can be really lengthy,” adding extra voices in the form of observers to the mix can be distracting. He does, however, acknowledge that a board observer “can be very productive with the company after the meeting and likely has more capacity to help with followup than the typical busy partner.” So Suster’s “new rule is, ‘bring your observer, by all means, as long as he/she stays silent.'”