Boss of £1m firm will give it away to be a full-time dad
- 24 March 2014
- From the section Business
The leader of a global PR firm, which represented the Dalai Lama and the Prince of Wales, is giving his company, worth up to £1m, away.
Simon Cohen said he wanted to focus on his family as he thought "jet-setting around the world" as head of Global Tolerance was missing the point.
He will hand over 95% of the company, with £10,000, and 10 years' worth of business contacts, he said.
Mr Cohen said he will stay on to mentor the new boss for a year.
The application process is "open to all", said the 34-year-old entrepreneur, adding he does not mind if a "starry-eyed graduate" or a "well-seasoned" executive wants to apply.
He said he hopes other leaders will follow his innovative succession plan.
"Most of the exit strategies seem to centre around how the leader can extract as much money as possible. Lots of businesses end up in a corporate graveyard because of this," he said.
Mr Cohen said he realised when visiting India during a sabbatical that while he was flying around the world with his business, he was missing his "pregnant wife's embrace".
He said: "I am giving up 95% of the shares in a successful company, worth between £500,000 and £1m. In that sense you could say I am giving up a lot of money. It is scary.
"But I think about value in a slightly different way."
In a move he says was unprecedented, Mr Cohen put Global Tolerance on a year-long sabbatical last April to coincide with the birth of his first daughter.
The company did not trade and its seven full-time staff were laid off, but were encouraged to take on Global Tolerance's clients, which included TED (Technology Entertainment and Design), as freelances.
Staff will not be rehired next month so the new head can start with a clean slate and no overhead costs, Mr Cohen said.
"The sum of £10,000 is not £1m, it is a modest sum. I want someone to come in with their own vision - not mine. The only way it is going to succeed is if it is not my vision. Companies need to change," he said.
Mr Cohen said he is now writing a book, and focusing on being a stay-at-home father.
"For me that is worth more than a million," he said.
He said he has "a little bit saved" to live off, but hopes to sign a book deal, and is doing some consulting work with a Buddhist leader in India to supplement his income.
Mr Cohen said he is looking for someone with an "authentic social vision" who is not just paying "lip service" to the idea in order to make money, as he said was often the case with corporate social responsibility campaigns.
"I will also be looking for someone with strong financial and business acumen, as this is an area where I have fallen short," said Mr Cohen.
Finding a new person will be a five-step process, he said, including tweeting about what leadership means to them, filling in an application, submitting a business plan and attending an evaluation day.