Like most people in the technology industry, I’ve found myself discussing the Facebook IPO on more than a few occasions in the past month or two. Usually, after telling someone I wouldn’t touch FB stock with a ten foot pole, they ask me what I don’t like about the company. Mark Zuckerberg? The revenue model? The market size? The competitive landscape?
Actually, I tell them, I like all of those things. In fact, I love the company.
I just hate the valuation.
Too many people without a background in finance (and even, shockingly, some people with a background in finance) think that liking a company and liking an investment are the same thing. If I think Facebook’s product is outstanding and their management team is wonderful, I should want to buy their stock.
But as an investor, that’s not how I think.
For every company, no matter how good or terrible I consider the company’s management team, product, and growth prospects, there’s a minimum and a maximum price I think it’s worth. I buy companies at or below the minimum and sell them as they approach the maximum. A good investment isn’t a function of quality, it’s a function of quality per price.
While I’m not involved in investment decisions at OpenView, I think I speak for most Venture Capitalists in saying that when they pass on your company based on the price tag you’re looking for, it’s not necessarily an indictment of you as a person, or your ability to run a successful enterprise. It just means the price tag — set by other investors — is too high.
Because the market value of your company is ultimately out of your control, there’s no reason to take investor disinterest personally. Concentrate on building the best company you can, and usually — eventually — you’ll be rewarded with a commensurate business valuation.
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