Kara Swisher writes a memo to Mark Zuckerberg about the possible scenarios facing Facebook. She references my post called Facebook IPO – It’s Microsoft Not The NASDAQ . I see this as an opportunity for Facebook. Recently Facebook has been hiring ‘quote seasoned executives’. Facebook’s future is in Mark’s hands – it’s all about the founder.
Silicon Valley has two kinds of companies: 1) build real long term value for employees, investors, and build a great culture, and 2) build a value proposition (venture backed) and sell making the venture capitalist rich and the founders rich. We haven’t seen the kind of company like HP, Apple, or Google for some time (obviously Google is most recent). We have seen tons of companies sell out.
What makes a great company? The Founder and the founding team – Bill and Dave; Steve Jobs, Sergey and Larry; Facebook is stuck in the middle here. Strong founders with passion and drive to build a long term viable company and a cast of characters with ‘seasoned experience’. What’s more important seasoned execs or young and hungry founder led teams?.
In the final analysis it’s all about the founders. When founders get replaced the companies usually die. Why? Because Founders know best.. Founders see things others don’t. Founders can do deals, hire employees, lead people, create products, and do things differently. Founders are extraordinary people. Mark is one of those founders. He’s done amazing things at Facebook. The question is what does he do next.
The Silicon Valley Way is to build great companies, create markets, AND, create wealth for stakeholders (including employees – they don’t have employeess ‘resting and vesting’). Mark as CEO of Facebook has an opportunity now. He is at an inflection point. The same inflection point Bill Gates had when he had to negotiate his way around the big IBM monopoly to get a ‘killer’ license deal for DOS. Remember Google when they did something no one thought was possible – they ran their IPO as an auction and create dual classes of stock. Why? Because the founders were extraordinary.
My advice to Mark – do something extraordinary – stop the PR Bull; Make a strong move in this market – Be Extraordinary.
Microsoft needs you and you need Microsoft – If that doesn’t work substitute Google for Microsoft.
Mark: you are in the drivers seat. Take the cash and structure something extraordinary. Remember going public isn’t the dream job – shareholder bickering, filings, tons of BS.
This is an extraordinary situation in a time in history where conventional wisdom is irrelevant.
UPDATE: NY Times DealBook has a great followup post to my post Zuckerberg Opportunity. The professor Steven Davidoff pens a detailed post around some of the tactical challenges around the Zuckerberg Opportunity