During the boom, if you asked any startup in the Valley when they planned on going public theyâ€™d tell you â€œabout 18 months.â€
Come back in 18 months and youâ€™d hear the same talk. This continued until IPOâ€™s become radioactive. Post boom you hear these same people espouse having a â€œpath to profitability,â€ which is a sure barometer for the fact that they actually have no such plan.
After working at four startups, I can see clearly from the inside that most of these strategies are wishful thinking tied together with two matchsticks: thatâ€™s why luck is so important.
A lot of startup people spend an inordinate amount of time messing with their Excel spreadsheets of revenue and growth projections until the numbers say theyâ€™re going to be profitable. When you read, â€œthe intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy,â€ a startup person knows this is what you get when you elect a CEO president: someone simply forgot to prefix the word â€œfailedâ€ in front of his title.
A month and a half ago, I was told by someone that my boss came back from lunch excited about the NPR Fresh Air program he heard where some guy was â€œtelling it like it is.â€ Since by some coincidence, I had taken the day off to visit my brother that day, I had actually heard that program twice and knew that the guy was Tom Friedman.
The problem is Tom Friedman is an idiot, especially when he expresses his pro-business libertarianism. I mean the guy wrote The World is Flatâ€”how is he qualified to write a book on economics? Answer: he is not, heâ€™s just espousing some libertarian fairy-tale rationalization for unchecked capitalism. He should leave his economics arguments for his bettersâ€”people like Paul Krugman.
At a certain point you have to realize that trying to convince Silicon Valley people the stupidity of unfettered capitalism as a means of social justice is like rolling a boulder up a hill in Hades: theyâ€™re going to fix whatever facts you tell them around their policy. Of course, I donâ€™t say this stuff at work. (Iâ€™m much too polite! Heh.)
Surprisingly, I agreed with many of the things he said in the program. The only thing that bugged me was the part where he said that Iraq was â€œon the vergeâ€ of the Civil War and that it was conceivable to make an 11th hour appeal to commitment to save of our situation there. I remember saying, â€œWhy doesnâ€™t the fucker grow a pair and just admit he was wrong about the entire adventure.â€
The problem is Iâ€™m not an expert in Middle Eastern politics so I had to defer to his judgement. But as my friend Dave says, â€œWhen you hear something wrong in what you are an expert in, it calls into question everything else you have heard from someone.â€
Thatâ€™s why I felt vindicated when I read this article.
I suppose if Tom ran a Silicon Valley startup, heâ€™d be going IPO in 18 months.