Doug Kilponen joins Silicon Foundry as a Partner, focused on strategic operations and guiding its continued integration with Kearney. Doug is an entrepreneur and technology executive whose nearly three decades of experience bridges early-stage startups and Fortune 500 boardrooms. He is a three-time Chief Operating Officer for early-to-growth stage startups – Grin Gaming, Wanderful Media, and MerchantCircle – with successful exits, and was the Head of SMB/Local at Nextdoor. Earlier in his career, Doug was a management consultant with the San Francisco office of A.T. Kearney, and he’s excited to have come full-circle and return home to the firm. Doug earned an MBA from Kellogg and a BA from Northwestern.
Doug, what drew you to Silicon Foundry and how is it to return to Kearney?
Silicon Foundry is a unique place and platform, forging links between highly capitalized corporate leaders and early-stage innovators. Given my background building earlier-stage ventures and driving deals between them and strategic corporate investors, I always felt a strong connection with Silicon Foundry’s mission, and it had been on my radar for nearly a decade. And while it had been some time since I’d worked at Kearney full-time, I have maintained relationships with the Partnership, and have done occasional pro-bono and client work for the firm in recent years. When the news was shared about Kearney acquiring Silicon Foundry, it felt like a brilliant match between the two firms and also something I had to be a part of. It was a combination of my operational growth background, my relationship with both firms, and the opportunity to work at the intersection of corporate and entrepreneurial innovation that made this an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. It’s been amazing to ramp up at Foundry over the past few weeks and has also been a welcome return to Kearney.
What makes you so excited about the recent joining of forces between Silicon Foundry and Kearney?
Kearney has historically been strong in operational consulting, but in recent years, with its acquisition of PERLab, the creation of Kearney Ventures, and the acquisition of Silicon Foundry, amongst others, the Partnership has increased its value-add across the range of issues facing corporations today: from innovation and corporate development to design and product excellence, from deep analytics and measurement to cost-effective procurement. These capabilities allow the firm to find and implement creative solutions across a very broad set of C-Suite challenges, making for compelling and purposeful work each and every day. Foundry is at the tip of the Kearney spear when it comes to innovative solutions, and that’s a place I find both familiar and stimulating.
What’s your take on the state of affairs these days in Silicon Valley and the outlook for its continued role as an epicenter of innovation on the global stage?
Silicon Valley has been at the center of global innovation for over half a century. Of course, innovation and talent are globally distributed, and, in recent years, there have been an increasing number of innovation hubs created around the world to support them. Thus, Foundry has offices in Austin, New York, Dubai, and London, amongst others, to support such nodes of creativity. And yet, the vast majority of venture funding continues to channel into the Bay Area, and talent continues to congregate here from all over the world. Having lived in the city and on the peninsula for thirty years, I’ve heard the prognostications about the death of San Francisco and/or Silicon Valley many times, but every time the ecosystem stumbles into a potential extinction level event (as the popular media likes to characterize it!), it soon after returns with a Cambrian explosion of innovation. Honestly, there is no place I’d rather be than here, where the future continues to evolve bit-by-bit, day-by-day, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
You bring significant operating experience to the SiF team, how do you expect this will help support Silicon Foundry continue scaling and accelerate growth in the months and years ahead?
I’ve been an operator in the innovation ecosystem since the 1990s, building early and mid-stage organizations into high growth, profitable companies. I understand entrepreneurs and the struggles that come with going from zero to one and beyond. SiF itself is still in so many ways a startup, albeit with a clear product-market fit, track record, and well-known reputation. And yet, as we move into the next phase of growth, it also faces similar growing pains related to standardizing processes, building the scaffolding within which the organization can expand, and generating the pathways to rapid growth in an exciting space. I’m extremely focused upon building the platform, the infrastructure and “machinery”, that enables and empowers our team to focus on doing their best work for our members, comfortable in the knowledge that the organization is there to support them. Of course, it helps that as we begin to integrate more fully with Kearney, I’m also very familiar with the firm and can facilitate connecting the dots between us. I believe this is the most exciting time in the history of Silicon Foundry and I’m delighted to help scale its tremendous growth potential!