Bill Gurley Is Blogging Again
If you asked me who my inspirations were when I started to blog, they would have been:
Seth Godin - because his blog was my favorite read at the time (and still is in my top 10)
Dave Winer - because Scripting News was the first blog I ever read (when it was an email newsletter)
Stewart Alsop - because his weekly PC Letter was my favorite read when I got started in the VC business
Jim Cramer - because he defined the kind of blogging I wanted to do
Bill Gurley - because he was the first VC to write regularly on the business in his Above The Crowd newsletter
Bill Gurley is the only one of these people who hasn't been actively blogging in the past couple years. (Many people will say that Jim Cramer doesn't blog, but he does, you just have to pay to read it).
Bill has just returned to blogging and right away he contributes to the conversation about the IPO drought. Bill argues that it's not really a demand problem. He says it's a supply problem.
If you went back to say 1995 and asked any entrepreneur or tech executive, “what is your one key goal for your company?,” they would all say – “IPO”. This overwhelming desire to be a part of a company that achieved a public offering was universal. It mirrored an athlete going to the Olympics, or perhaps playing in the pros. This passionate desire to be public is completely gone in Silicon Valley. For reasons you could easily list – Sarbanes Oxley; 12b1 trading rules; shareholder litigation; option pricing scandals; personal liability on 10-Q filing signatures – it is simply not much fun being a public executive.
The Benchmark portfolio current has over 15 companies north of $50MM in revenues, and they are all private. This would have never happened in 1995 (even pre-bubble) where most of these companies would ALREADY BE public.
I don’t think we have a demand problem, we have a supply problem. No one wants to manage a public company.
I am mostly with Bill on this one. In the short run, we may have a demand problem as wall street is not in a good mood right now. But long term, its a supply problem for sure.