Updated 3:40 p.m.: Tech Wildcatters’ CEO Gabriella Draney has released a statement that said the changes were a result of preparing for the next generation of the accelerator’s team. The organization plans to hire a project manager in the coming weeks, and will launch a “unique online” platform for its companies and mentors in the third quarter. Co-founder John Reed is developing an entrepreneur in residence position, which Draney hopes will be filled by former Wildcatters founders after their exits. “Organizational change is never easy,” Draney’s statement read. “We are fortunate to be able to build on positive momentum, and build the program we feel accelerators must now evolve to offer in order to succeed in today’s market.”
Tech Wildcatters has made some big changes to its executive leadership team, eliminating the jobs formerly held by Executive Director Molly Cain and Chief Revenue Officer Clarisa Lindenmeyer.
The cuts came after a meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday as Tech Wildcatters continues its growth strategy under its new merit-based funding model, The Gauntlet. CEO Gabriella Draney remains at the top with Robert Brevelle continuing his role as chief operations officer. Tech Wildcatters was not available for comment by the time this story published.
Cain was hired as the Dallas accelerator’s executive director in October 2014. Since then, she’s increased the number of investors, which was her goal during her first year, and helped navigate the accelerator and its startups through The Gauntlet, which launched as a year-round program earlier this year. With The Gauntlet model, she helped more than double the amount of applicants, which totaled about 700 this year.
“It was a shock, but it wasn’t a surprise,” Cain said, adding that she was told the elimination wasn’t performance-related. “I’ve known there were some organizational changes they wanted to make.”
Lindenmeyer, who was hired in 2013 to help with the organization’s public relations, was appointed chief revenue officer under the new model. She said she’s had a close relationship with Draney during her tenure.
“I didn’t know this was coming,” Lindenmeyer said. “But I’m not surprised with there being changes in the organization.”
Unconfirmed rumors suggest that earlier this year, the two chose not to sign a non-compete agreement, which would keep the two from working with competing organizations one year after departing.
Cain leaves her position with another already lined up. She will be the newest venture partner at Alexander Muse’s new venture capital fund Sumo Ventures, which launched earlier this month. The interim position is just one of the big announcements Cain expects to make about her involvement in the community, as she’s had an outpouring of support and a few interesting offers since leaving Tech Wildcatters.
Lindenmeyer said she’s had numerous opportunities arise, but hasn’t had the bandwidth to pursue them, with the time and energy that she dedicated to Tech Wildcatters along with taking time for her growing family. Lindenmeyer is expecting to welcome a baby girl in September, which will be her third child.
While she’ll have more time for her family, she doesn’t intend on slowing down her activities in the startup community. Having worked with local startups for the past three years, Lindenmeyer plans to serve as a consultant for startups under her new company Proximity to Power.
“My sweet spot is working with CEOs and helping them identify the gaps,” Lindenmeyer said. ” I can help them grow, scale and solidify strategy.”
Meanwhile, Tech Wildcatters plans to add new junior positions to its team, Cain was told.
The news broke after Cain sent out an email to her contacts, which included investors and professions with whom she had a business relationship. In the note, she told contacts that her position had been eliminated. While the timing was a shock, Cain said she noticed when the organization started heading in a different direction.
“I personally was uncomfortable with how we were going and had different visions of how we managed that growth,” Cain said, abstaining from releasing any specifics on strategy. “We certainly clashed on that.”
At her new position at Sumo Ventures, Cain will be charged with leveraging her network of investors and startups to help the venture firm with deal flow. She will get a percentage of every deal she helps make at the firm.
“The last two years she’s really been in the game so she knows a lot,” Muse said. “She’s a great connector.”
While the venture firm will be a new journey for Cain, the partnership with Muse isn’t. Muse first met Cain in 2012, when she was working as vice president of marketing at Comerica Bank and as a freelancer for Forbes, writing about women and entrepreneurship.
“I convinced her to leave her cushy job … and work for me and Robert [Bennett] at ViewMarket,” he said, referring to the startup that acquired CultureMap last year. “We were struggling and clawing on how to find a sustainable business and she did great.”
When Draney began looking for an executive director at Tech Wildcatters, Muse said he put in a referral for Cain.
“Molly was the obvious choice,” he said. “There was trepidation because we would lose her, but it was a better, higher purpose.”
Cain will hit the ground running in her new post in a few days. While the abrupt change was not as planned as Cain would’ve preferred, she knows the right decision ultimately was made.
“I really have truly enjoyed being the lead and running the organization,” she said. “I think it really was a just mismatch on a cultural scale.”
And Lindenmeyer sees the move as an opportunity.
“All too often people get nervous about change,” Lindenmeyer said. “This is what that job taught me–to embrace it.”