We are extremely proud to count Richard Couch as an alum and friend of the Simon School. He has had an immensely successful professional career, first at Xerox — rising to senior management ranks in record time — and more recently as one of the country 's most highly regarded turn-around/workout specialists. Richard also has given back in so many meaningful ways to our School: as a long-standing member of our Executive Advisory Committee; a mentor to our current students; a regular speaker, including giving our Commencement Address a few years ago; and a consistently prolific recruiter of Simon talent.
Simon Graduate School of Business
University of Rochester, NY.
My company, Jetstream Communications, engaged Diablo Management in 2002 when the "telecom downturn" turned our business plan upside-down. We had a buyer for our product line, but still faced a host of issues with customers, suppliers, landlords, lenders, ex-employees and other stakeholders. Richard and his team ran an orderly process to get the major issues resolved in a timely fashion, and then went in to a maintenance mode to deal with the "long tail" of items that took many months to work out.
As the founder of Jetstream, I appreciated that DMG shared my sensitivity to the plight of the numerous individuals and organizations that were impacted by our circumstances. I also found very helpful DMG's ability to lay out alternatives and their willingness to explain the merits and risks of each. The company's deep history with "special situations" similar to ours meant they could bring best practices and resources to the task at hand, removing the guesswork from the process.
Executing an orderly transition of Jetstream's business could have been a drawn-out and expensive affair, but DMG's pragmatic approach combined with experience and perspective, meant that it was carried out efficiently, in terms of both time and money.
I have worked with Diablo Management for as long as I've been in the venture capital business starting in 1988. Over that time Richard and his firm, Diablo Management Group, have provided an unmatched record of quality and engagement with our portfolio of companies. He has always been my "go-to guy" and if there's anything that I've appreciated most about Richard, it's his loyalty, responsiveness, professionalism and, for anyone who knows him, his directness. He does things for us that no one else can do. I also have to relate this to his naval career as well since it's appropriate as to how I view Richard. When the going gets tough with some of our situations, I never have to doubt who's by my side.
Mayfield China/GSR Ventures
I have worked with DMG on several mutual clients over the past 15 years. They are generally acknowledged in Silicon Valley to be the very best at what they do. Every venture capital firm that has worked with DMG wants the firm involved with their troubled portfolio companies. Some of them conclude that they can't afford to hire DMG's horsepower, but the reality is that they can't afford not to.
Since DMG is generally retained by the venture capitalist, there can be an assumption that the firm might favor the investors' interest over that of the management or creditors. My experience has been quite to the contrary. In fact, DMG's great strength is that they always shoot straight and treat all constituencies fairly and even handedly. This gives DMG great credibility with and cooperation from all of the stakeholders in what tend to be very complex situations and contributes greatly to their effectiveness.
Robert P. Latta
Partner, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, P.C.