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So many tech startups are looking for an exit strategy. I'm not sure why though. When I look at some of the greatest companies of our day (Google, Apple, Amazon, etc.) they only made it to the top because they endured for 10-15 years.

Maybe it's me, but I'd much prefer to lead one of those companies, as opposed to selling out to one of them.
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Charles Davis's profile photoDan Cristo's profile photoBen Barden's profile photoSiddhartha Naithani's profile photo
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I'm with you - however, if you sell a company so you can go and start another, I can see why people would do that. I guess some people are better are getting things started, others are better at running things over a long period.
 
Exit strategie are for cowards. Build something incredible...and then make it more incredible!
 
I agree with both of you actually. lol.
+Ben Barden Some people are just built for startups, and can't take it when things go corporate.
+Jeff Gibbard Sometimes people just want to make a quick buck. The money means more than the passion they once had for solving the problem.

So many great companies have been acquired lately. In fact, Google acquires a major company once every 10 days on average. That is NUTS!!!
 
Totally with you. Everyone is so concentrated on the short term. No-one seems to value the concept of building something that lasts forever. To me that's real success.
 
Typically, the entrepreneur and the enterprise CEO are not cut from the same cloth. Some people are good at building something out of nothing, leading small teams to make quick decisions. Some are good at managing complex, layered organizations and massive budgets/expenses.

Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos are such rare talents; they turned basement operations into firms with thousands of employees spread globally and, by all accounts, managed to lead effectively on both ends of such radical transitions.

On the other hand, there's a rapid startup-to-exit pathology that resembles a high end get-rich-quick scheme. Certain startup "entrepreneurs" are only interested in getting bought out, not in building good products and/or services.

I think about doing this all the time. I wrote a business plan designed to get VC money for a company. I had no idea what I was doing, but it turned out to be surprisingly easy to get legit VCs to show serious interest an little more than rehashed ideas.

Since then, I always thought that I could spin a slight variation "me too" of a hot existing product into an institutional investment and get bought by a valley monolith desperate to get into that particular niche. This happens all the time, and people get big checks, hence the temptation. But it's not creating value.

I do know entrepreneurs who just naturally gravitate to the startup, not to get rich quick in the cynical way I fantasize about. They just work better in a startup environment. When their businesses reach a certain size, they don't feel they can contribute much; they prefer to sell and move on to a new project. I have a lot of time and respect for that kind of serial entrepreneur.
 
+Siddhartha Naithani that was an awesome comment. You've got some great points there.

I wonder how many founders end up selling early because of pressure from early investors? I mean, they want to get their money back as soon as possible. They usually have little interest in building a sustainable company. 
 
I think you're right; that probably happens a lot. Generally, VCs are long term investors, but angels are a lot less patient. Angels give money at much better deals, but they expect returns a lot faster. VCs basically own you, but they don't flinch if you need another big check or two down the road...provided you're still growing.

So a typical path would be getting angel money first. Then when the pressure piles up, take another investment round (maybe bigger angels) and use the money to buy out the original investors, spend what's left...then another round. This time, maybe VCs with huge checks, but at least now you have a proven concept and a history of growth so you don't get completely owned.

Apple was a different story, but Google and Amazon lost millions upon millions before they even conceived of a profitable model. Their investors stuck with it because a) they believed in the massive potential of search/ecommerce and b) they had ridiculously deep pockets.
 
Right. And in each round of investment the founders lose a little more of the company.

I guess that's ok though, because a small % of a lot is better than a big % of a little, but with that they also lose control.

Man, you just don't hear many startup success stories of pure bootstrapped companies. It's like athletes where if you want to break out from the pack you have to take performance enhancing drugs. 
 
Love the analogy! There's all this loose cash flowing into "like twitter but stupider" and "instagram except not called instagram." How does a bootstrapper compete when the other startups (many who will never make a dime) have marketing budgets at multiples the size of their real value?

Also true on losing control at every investment round, which is why so many entrepreneurs don't like to stick around after a while. They want to be creative, call their own shots. They're not comfortable in distributed, bureaucratic decision making arrangements.
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