Sell too soon, and you leave money on the table. Sell too late, maybe there’s nobody left to acquire you. Don’t sell at all? Might just not leave a choice, but to build a big, successful company.
There are many stories about companies that received offers, declined them, and then later either disappeared, or were acquired for peanuts. When AOL acquired Mirabilis (ICQ) back in 1998 for $287M in cash, many felt they were sold too cheaply. Could be. What I’m more worried about are companies that are sold sub-$100M, essentially as technology plugs, before they can scale and prove their value. This is where we all loose – entrepreneurs and venture capitalists alike.
So how to avoid the temptation to sell??? Actually, this starts day 1. If you don’t swing for the fence, you’ll never hit a home run. Sometimes, a great swing, doesn’t quite make it, and you get a solid base hit. (Yes, my America roots show a bit).
In my mind, why would you want to sell for $100M, if you can continue to build and make it to $350M? I certainly don’t like leaving money on the table!!! My investors don’t like it either, and actually, neither should the entrepreneurs, nor their spouses .
There are 2 major industry events in Israel, that bring together venture capitalists and entrepreneurs (in addition to investment bankers, lawyers, accountants and other service providers): The annual IVA event, and E&Y’s Journey, which was held today. These events provide the best opportunity to mingle with the Israeli crowd - everybody is there. In fact, it is so crowded that there was not enough parking available (I parked in the last spot available on the roof, which wasn’t exactly an official parking spot), and for lunch, there were not enough tables, nor even standing room to properly enjoy lunch. (Did anybody ask what are the differences between Silicon Valley and Israel???).
The conference agenda focuses on industry topics such as, trends in the various investment sectors (software, media, cleantech, etc., etc.) as well as workshops designed for entrepreneurs, addressing issues such as raising capital, IP strategy, etc.
However, as most of such conferences, it seems that most of the work is done outside of sessions. At any given point, the corridors were just packed! The organizers were actually smart (and kind) enough to design a large space, with cozy chairs, espresso and cookies, so that attendees could comfortably do what they would do in any case…. talk to each other.
So, for those that missed this opportunity to network, mark your calendar for IVA’s 2008 event:
When I read articles like today’s in the SJ Mercury News, where smoking will be illegal in San Jose parks, as well as city sidewalks, including people smoking inside their cars, it makes me miss Silicon Valley even more.
About 2 weeks ago, the Israeli newspapers released data regarding smoking in the adult population here in Israel. Among the Jewish population, the numbers were about 30% male smokers, and 20% female. Within the Arab population, the number was 40% males and less than 10% female.
Makes you wonder, doesn’t anybody pay attention to the fact that smoking is harmful to your health??? And worse…
I wish Israel would adopt stronger regulations. Although, it will certainly be interesting to see how San Jose enforces these new laws.
The 8th annual Rosh Pina film festival starts tomorrow, celebrating 40 years of Israeli television. It’s the place to be to discuss the future of television, how it is impacted by (and lives with) the Internet, mobile and other forms of new media and media delivery.
Media is very high on our agenda here at Gemini. Recognizing the impact that technology is having on this entire space, we have been investing in the various parts of this food chain for several years already. At Rosh Pina, we hope to meet entrepreneurs that continue to think of how they can change this world.
I am often asked to compare Israel to the valley, since I have spent many years in both. There are so many aspects to this discussion, that outright comparison is not easy at all. I wanted to share one dimension, which you can describe as form vs. substance.
This summer, as I spent time in the valley, instead of discontinuing my exercise regiment, I opted to check out Equinox in Palo Alto. Great gym. Very clean, esthetically pleasing, top equipment, tons of exercise classes to choose from, beautifully maintained, etc., etc., etc.
In comparison, here in Israel, I go to spinning class several times a week. Spinning is held at the Matnas (“community center”) of my moshav. The building probably hasn’t been renovated since the early 70’s, has no character whatsoever, bikes are not the latest and greatest, the sound system is basically a big portable speaker with amplifier, placed in the middle of the room.
But… the trainer (Yifat) is orders of magnitude better than any of the 3 who’s classes I attended this summer. The class has so much more energy, in addition to being highly personalized (she knows us all, and is constantly making sure that our bodies are in the right position, to prevent injury, etc.). Her music is, as we say in Hebrew slang, “don’t waste your time” (— translated, means absolutely awesome).
As you wander around here in Israel, this will be a repeating theme. Outstanding restaurants, next to buildings that are falling apart. Customer service that may not be as polite as the american counterparts, but will often go out of their way to think “out of the box”, helping you to deal with whatever issue is at hand.
Yep, Israel is Israel, and Silicon Valley, is the one and only. The challenge: look to enjoy the best of each, instead of the worst of both.
“I have nothing to wear” is a a frequent comment, typically made by those with closets full of clothes...
Actually, what I wanted to discuss here is what to wear to a meeting with VC’s. I recall my first business meeting, way way way back when I was still an engineer, and asked to purchase a suit (yuck!) in preparation for my meeting with Hughes Aircraft in Orange County. One of the more experienced marketeers in my firm took me shopping for a grey skirt, white button down shirt and black jacket. I’m still horrified by that memory.
However, first impressions are very important. It’s not only the quality of what you say, but how you say and present it. So, what should you wear to that meeting?
First, you should be comfortable. If you don’t feel comfortable in your clothes, you certainly won’t look it. You want to be at your very best, at ease, focusing on the issues.
Next, you don’t want to stand out. For example, an Israeli entrepreneur that would walk into our office in a suit and tie, when all of us are “business casual” would look like they’re trying too hard. The objective is to look professional, confident and comfortable.
In Israel, you won’t go wrong with business casual. Israeli’s are very casual anyhow. However, shorts and crocs might not be the best choice for your first meeting.
Regardless of what you choose to wear, please do turn off your cellphone…
It’s well known that a good manager has really only one decision to make: “Who to hire”, (— and the related “Who to fire”). Hiring is very time consuming, and overall a very challenging process for an organization. There is so much information on this subject, and there are certainly experts in the field (of which I am not). However, recently, Dov Moran, CEO of Gemini start-up InFone, shared some insights that I thought to post in my blog (with his permission…).
So for Dov, it’s all “People First”. Who is that person. He looks at 3 main parameters:
IQ – Intellectual Abilities
EQ – Emotional development
AQ – Stamina
Once you’ve understood that, comes the most important – compatibility with the organization. At InFone, corporate culture caters to people that want to come to work and have FUN. If a person, as talented as they may be, is one that will not be fun to work with, be around, etc. , they’re the wrong person for InFone. There are certainly companies where this is not even a consideration, which is just fine (for them…).
Next in line, relevant experience. It’s not the most important parameter! Companies are built for the long-term. If you hire an extremely talented person, within a few months, they will learn whatever it is they lack in their experience. However, a mediocre employee with very relevant experience will never be “WOW”, which is what InFone expects from each and every employee.
This is where balance becomes important. Too many employees without relevant experience will be problematic too.
At the end, need to check the employees prior work history. At which companies did they work? Unfortunately, if all were unsuccessful, that might say something about choices (and of course, bad karma for InFone).
On top of all that, Dov puts a lot of emphasis on plain-and-simple “likeability”. If you don’t (or can’t) “like” a person, just say no. Everybody needs to keep in mind that we spend more of our time with our colleagues, than with our families. Let’s enjoy it as much as possible.
Today marks the end of the Jewish holidays. During the past month, we celebrated Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Succoth, and Simhat Torah. This means that work weeks have been typically 3 days, kids have been in and out (mostly out) of school. Typically a very joyous season for Jews everywhere.
My only problem: the rest of the world didn’t seem to notice. My husbands phone continued to ring from his clients abroad. Emails continued at pretty much the same pace as any other day. Even I, who really try and balance my life, found myself with a conference call at 5PM. I was fortunate enough to have received an SMS reminder about 20 minute before the call…. and even with that, I found myself late by 15 minutes, as I was sidetracked with a family matter.
To be honest, I find this whole situation quite frustrating. It’s yet another reminder of some of the challenges that our Israeli start-ups face. Bad enough we’re out of our customers time zone and work week, we need to “pay” with missing out on much of our holiday and family time. At least come the last 2 weeks of December, we can shut down and nobody will notice.