Learn More About Jon McNeill
When it comes to scaling businesses, few leaders have been more impactful than Jon McNeill, CEO and co-founder of DVx Ventures, General Motors Board of Directors member and Vice Chairman of the Cruise Board, past President of Tesla, and former COO of Lyft. A leadership trifecta – entrepreneur, investor and executive overseeing some of the biggest business success stories of the new millennium – his effectiveness is illustrated through a track record of multi-billion-dollar successes in the fraught and uncertain world of emerging technologies. His strategy for scaling startups serves as a valuable framework for leading and growing 21st century organizations.
McNeill’s principles for what leaders should be doing to grow their businesses are best viewed through his achievements: At Tesla, he oversaw a 10-fold increase in sales, from $2 billion to $20 billion in only three years. In 2018, he went on to serve as chief operating officer at Lyft where he helped the ride-sharing pioneer prepare for its initial public offering. When Lyft went public the next year, its revenue had grown from $800 million to $2 billion. In his career, McNeill has founded, scaled and a sold half-a-dozen startups, all before co-founding DVx Ventures, a disruptive startup incubator where he currently serves as CEO. With DVx Ventures, McNeill has launched seven more companies, two of which have already been funded. An advocate for a people-first business culture, he credits these successes to a three-part framework.
“You have to start by hiring world-class people,” reveals McNeill, who sits on multiple corporate boards, including lululemon, CrossFit and Stash Financial. “Once those people are hired, leadership must focus. There’s an art in simplicity, and if you choose a handful of the right things to focus on, you’ll up your chances enormously. And then there has to be real accountability for leaders to aim very high and not settle for a 25% growth rate when they can achieve 100% growth rate with some additional effort and resources.”
The Path to Disruptive Innovation Starts with Sleeping on the Manufacturing Floor
A former Bain Capital advisor, McNeill is a popular guest lecturer at Harvard Business School and the MIT Sloan School of Management and is a highly sought-after speaker. His engaging leadership stories and relatable style illuminate how vital it is for leaders to remain engaged with all levels of the organization. By having close proximity to employees and customers, executives are in a better position to build a culture of trust and innovation, as well as have a better understanding of what customers really need. McNeill tested this boots-on-the-ground leadership philosophy during his time at Tesla.
“When we were trying to solve a problem with the Model X falcon wing doors, Elon and I would leave our offices and sleep on the manufacturing floor,” he explains. “We were there to understand how the entire manufacturing process worked and because the people on the line could tell us exactly what was going on. We weren’t going through five layers of management and a bunch of data and reports – the employees could say in the moment, ‘here’s what’s going wrong,’ and we could describe to the engineers what we needed to fix. Being physically present allowed for immediate attention to challenges which helped build a team-oriented atmosphere and greatly accelerated our innovation speed.”
As startups and established brands alike embark on scaling initiatives that are rife with uncertainties, it’s crucial to engage expert help. McNeill’s vast experience leading the exponential growth of disruptive startups that became iconic successes helps founders, executives, boards and workers at all levels of an organization remain engaged in growing and contributing to the forward – and upward – momentum of a business.
Jon McNeill is CEO of DVx Ventures, an early and growth-stage venture platform with offices in Silicon Valley, New York and Boston, and a guest lecturer at Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan School of Management. Before serving as president of Tesla from 2015-2018 and COO of Lyft from 2018-2019, he founded, scaled and sold six companies which he led through hypergrowth in revenues and operations, created tens of thousands of jobs, and delivered multi-billion-dollar returns for investors.
A graduate of Northwestern University, McNeill began his career at Bain & Company. He was the 2012 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and was named the most admired CEO in Boston in 2013. He currently serves on the boards of lululemon, Asurion, Crossfit, Stash, Cambridge Mobile Telematics, Tekion and Tier.
Jon McNeill is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group.